EDITOR'S NOTE: The first El Trafico between the LA Galaxy and LAFC will be replayed in full on FS1 on Monday at 8 pm ET, with an encore presentation at 1 am ET. On Tuesday, to mark the two-year anniversary, the game will be shown as part of MLS Classics: Remix at 4 pm ET. Former LAFC player Benny Feilhaber, former Galaxy player Chris Pontius, Calen Carr and David Gass will provide alternative commentary via KISWE’s innovative live streaming technology. The game will also be shown on Tuesday at 9 pm ET on FOX Deportes.
Almost everything that could have happened actually happened and that doesn’t happen often. Really ever.
Two years ago to the day on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy and LAFC lived up to the hype. The cliche in soccer is that the big games are the ones where the smallest amount of things happen. It is a cliche that often holds true.
But then there are moments like the first match between the Galaxy and LAFC. When reality surpasses hype you get a generational moment that sets the standard for what a big match can be. You get a moment so deservedly selfish in taking attention and wonder that for a while it kind of ruins other moments.
The hype started in the streets. LAFC’s motto of “street by street, block by block” had resulted in a legitimate foothold and legitimate tension within the city’s soccer fandom. Then the BIG MEDIA came in and stoked the fire to hell and back and all of a sudden you had a match that had snagged everyone’s attention and a match with a brand new nickname.
“First, I want to say,” Jimmy Lopez, president of LAFC’s supporters’ union, The 3252, said. “That on our end, from everybody on behalf of 3252. we hate the name ‘El Trafico.’”
Look, sometimes you get what you get. Sometimes you get a nickname you don’t like. And even if it’s dismissed at a local level, the name gave the match a definitive brand for everyone elsewhere to latch on to. As goofy as it may be, it helped get everyone intrigued.
It also helped that LAFC had already shown signs of being the absolute buzzsaw it would become the next year. The expansion side won in Seattle in its first-ever game, then thrashed Real Salt Lake on the road, 5-1. Now they were coming to Los Angeles for the first time. Kind of. Some fans would be quick to point out they were making a short drive to Carson.
And then, of course, there was the arrival of … well, we’ll get there.
The match sold out. They probably could have doubled the size of Dignity Health Sports Park and sold out. It helped that fans of the newest L.A. club were more than ready to make a statement.
“It's like, okay, let's show the world what we got,” Lopez said. “We were just eager because the rivalry was born before we even hit the pitch. If they would've sold us more tickets, I guarantee you there would have been black and gold, like no other. Everybody wanted to be there.”
With over 2,000 opposing fans in the building and anxious to (metaphorically) punch the popular kid on the block in the mouth, the day felt different before the first whistle even blew. Lines had officially been drawn in the city.
“When I think we all came out for warmups or even before that you could see like, ‘Oh, who made their decision?’” the Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget said. “You had their group of fans and you had our group of fans. And so it was like that defining moment, you know what I mean? Like you're on that side. I'm on this side.”