LAFCvsLA - July 18 - Rossi vs Pavon

El Trafico: LAFC, LA Galaxy have made the LA derby one of world's most heated rivalries

In just two years and just a handful of matches, the LA derby between the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club has quickly become one of the most compelling soccer rivalries anywhere in the world.

The Galaxy have the most recent bragging rights in the rivalry coming off their 2-0 triumph over LAFC on August 22. However, LAFC got the better of the matchup before that in emphatic fashion with a resounding 6-2 victory at the MLS is Back Tournament.

“It’s their World Cup final playing us,” LAFC's Mark-Anthony Kaye said after that match. “I don’t know what they’re fueled off of at this point. I don’t know how they train, I don’t know what their ideas are. Yes, I think their coach is a good coach. He’s proven it with other teams, but it’s like they need that physical battle. If they win that physical battle they feel like they’ll win the game and you can’t do that all the time. In the MLS you’re not going to be up for a game all the time like that. I just don’t know, I really don’t know.”

With the sides set to face off again on Sunday (10:30 pm ET | UniMas. TUDN in US; TSN2 in Canada), here's a look back at the brief but compelling history of one of the league's most contentious derby matchups.

"El Trafico"

LAFC joined MLS as an expansion team for the 2018 season and before the first derby match against the Galaxy, the fans coined the nickname of the matchup "El Trafico." It was a play on "El Clasico" with a nod to the gridlock that is commonplace on Los Angeles roadways. 

For the full story behind the rivalry, watch "Birth of a Rivalry" (Part 1 & Part 2).

Memorable Moments

MLS is Back rout (July 18, 2020): During the most unusual 2020 season, the LA clubs clashed in Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament. Diego Rossi scored four goals, while Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mohamed El-Munir each tallied in the 6-2 dismantling. But the game lacked some luster, as Mexican superstars Vela and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez were both absent.

LAFC knock out Galaxy (October 25, 2019): It was an electric, high-scoring, see-saw battle that lived up to all the hype as the No. 1-seeded LAFC hosted the No. 5 seed LA Galaxy in the first-ever playoff meeting between the two: a single elimination knockout round match at Banc of California Stadium. Vela and Ibrahimovic both scored — nothing new there — but it was LAFC who came out on top 5-3 in what proved to be the final game in a Galaxy jersey for Ibrahimovic.

Zlatan's Debut (March 31, 2018): Years later, you will probably still remember where you were when Zlatan scored THAT goal on his MLS debut ... in the first-ever El Trafico, no less. He told the story of the wild 48 hours before that substitute appearance that set the tone for his show-stopping MLS career.

Zlatan vs. Vela (July 19, 2019): It was a week of barbs being traded between the two biggest stars in LA. First Vela was quoted as saying that he was the better player in the moment. Then Zlatan set the record straight that he was superior (watch the exchanges below):

Then the field rendered its verdict after a spicy pregame interview: It was Zlatan 3, Vela 2. It was also the final result.

MLS Regular Season

The two teams have met on five occasions during the MLS regular season and the Galaxy are still undefeated at 2W-0L-3D.

What's more: When these two teams come together, goals are guaranteed. No team has ever been shut out in the five all-time meetings (home team listed first):

LA Galaxy 4, LAFC 3 (March 31, 2018 | HIGHLIGHTS): In one of the greatest matches in MLS history, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his MLS debut in the first-ever El Trafico, coming off the bench to score two goals, including one of the greatest finishes you'll ever see.

LAFC 2, LA Galaxy 2 (July 26, 2018 | HIGHLIGHTS): The Galaxy fought back after going down 2-0 on the road, equalizing with just four minutes remaining.

LA Galaxy 1, LAFC 1 (Aug. 24, 2018 | HIGHLIGHTS): Zlatan gave the Galaxy a first-half lead and Vela leveled on a penalty kick in the second half.

LA Galaxy 3, LAFC 2 (July 19, 2019 | HIGHLIGHTS): After a controversial lead-up after comments both players made to the media, this game proved the ultimate showdown between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela with the LA Galaxy star coming out on top with an epic hat trick. 

LAFC 3, LA Galaxy 3 (Aug. 25, 2019 | HIGHLIGHTS): The LA Galaxy took a 3-1 lead inside the first 15 minutes, only for Carlos Vela and LAFC to equalize in the second half.

MLS Cup Playoffs

The first and only postseason matchup to date came in the Western Conference Semifinal – a single-game knockout match played at Banc of California Stadium – and it resulted in the highest scoring match to date between the two sides: a 5-3 LAFC win, their first in the series across all competitions.

Best Goals

As it stands, the series is tied at an even 2-2-3 across all competitions. The rivals have scored a combined 40 goals, averaging out to nearly six goals per game. Check out the best ones below.

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