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LAFC vs. LA Galaxy: Match Preview

El Trafico. Round Three. Elimination playoff game. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California

When: Thursday, October 24, 7:30 PM PT

How to Watch: ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the United States

Los Angeles Football Club will host the LA Galaxy in the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday night, in a single-elimination match as part of the new playoff format. The winner will advance to the Western Conference Finals and will be two wins away from being MLS Cup Champions, while the loser has to see their arch-rival continue in the playoffs while they watch the rest from home.

LAFC are coming off a well-earned bye. By finishing first in the West, LAFC got to watch as the 2-7 seeds played in the new playoff format, so LAFC’s last match was the Supporters’ Shield-clinching win against the Colorado Rapids on Decision Day, Oct. 6. The Galaxy, meanwhile, are coming off their win in the first round of the playoffs on the road against Minnesota United, where they won 2-1.

This match could not get much bigger for LAFC. Not only will they be chasing history after setting a new MLS single-season points record, with record-setting goal-scorer Carlos Vela, but they will be doing so in their second year of existence, in their second playoff match. Their first playoff match is one they will be trying to shake the demons of, as Real Salt Lake came into Banc of California Stadium and rode a Albert Rusnak wonder-strike, a Damir Kreilach goal and an own goal to a shock victory.

Not only do LAFC have to think about their last playoff appearance, but they have the history against this specific opponent to worry about. The Galaxy is one of the few teams LAFC have never beaten (the others being NYCFC and Chicago), with two losses and three draws. The first was the Ibrahimovic MLS debut game, where LAFC took a 3-0 lead and ended up losing 4-3. The second was the first that LAFC hosted, when LAFC went up 2-0 in 20 minutes, and drew 2-2. The third and final of 2018 was a 1-1 draw, when a Carlos Vela penalty cancelled out a Zlatan opening goal.

The two 2019 matchups between the LA sides was more of the same. The first of the year, fourth overall, was Zlatan’s home hat trick to lead the Galaxy to a 3-2 win, which snapped an extraordinary run of form from LAFC, and the last was LAFC’s turn to come back, after the Galaxy went up 3-1 in the first 16 minutes, the game finishing 3-3.

Safe to say, this is the playoff matchup that many wanted and anticipated. And now, it’s here. LAFC will head to their second-ever playoff game, after being bounced from the first. They are at home, where they are 13-1-3 this season. They have history to shake and history to chase. They come up against their arch-rival, at home, after the best regular season ever, in an elimination game where the regular season means nothing anymore. They also come up against a team with the next-best player in MLS, a team who has never lost to LAFC, and a team that has the most MLS Cups in history. That team is the Galaxy. This game is El Trafico. And this is the biggest, ever.

Prediction: LAFC 4, Galaxy 3. It wouldn’t be El Trafico without some crazy drama. Vela and Ibrahimovic will both show out on the biggest non-MLS Cup stage you can imagine, and I predict this will go to extra time, with Vela grabbing the winner.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!