Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - split image
USA Today Sports Images

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. 

A new chapter will be written in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs when LAFC host the Galaxy on Thursday, October 24 at Banc of California Stadium in a Western Conference Semifinal (10:30 pm ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN and TVAS). It's a single elimination match: Winner advances, loser goes home.

LAFC, still seeking their first-ever win over the Galaxy, will host the match as No. 1 seeds in the Western Conference, while the LA Galaxy are the No. 5 seeds in the 2019 postseason.  

And once again it'll be Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. Carlos Vela, the head-to-head that's marked the story of the rivalry thus far.

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" -- 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

Zlatan's Debut (March 31, 2018): Years later, you probably still remember where you were when Zlatan scored THAT goal on his MLS debut ... in the first-ever El Trafico, no less. He tells the story of the wild 48 hours before that substitute appearance that set the tone for his showstopping 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 summary 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 in the MLS regular season, but LAFC have yet to taste victory against Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Co. The Galaxy are undefeated with a 2W-0L-3D record.

What's more: When these two teams come together, goals are guaranteed. No team has ever been shutout 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.