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Dan Kennedy: “Something special happening” at LAFC

Former MLS goalkeeper talks El Trafico and the state of the rivalry in exclusive interview.

Houston Dynamo v Chivas USA

Dan Kennedy knows soccer in Los Angeles. From 2008-15, he played for Chivas USA, most of it as a starter, and can credibly be called the best player of that defunct club over a sustained period in its 10-year history.

In 2016, Kennedy moved to the LA Galaxy, so he has experience on both sides of an LA rivalry. Now retired as a player, Kennedy stays busy these days in a variety of ways: He runs a real estate investment business, works in broadcasting both locally, for Spectrum Sportsnet, and nationally for Fox Sports, and he’s the co-host of a podcast on the Bleav network alongside LAFC host Mark Rogondino.

Kennedy spoke exclusively to Angels on Parade recently. Of course the topic of El Trafico and soccer in Los Angeles ahead of Friday’s clash between Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy came up.

“Well, I mean, John Thorrington and co., and all the ownership group and Bob Bradley, these guys just haven’t really put a foot wrong,” Kennedy said when complimenting the swift ascent of Los Angeles Football Club. “Maybe the only thing that you could be harsh with them about is the [Andre] Horta signing, and it was for me more a matter of it was just the wrong puzzle piece than it was a bad player. I like Horta as a player. And, yeah, I mean, for the city of Los Angeles. I mean, competition drives quality products, and the Galaxy have to be better now. Because something special is happening up the street.”

LAFC are in first place in MLS, 10 points ahead of any other team in the Supporters’ Shield race, but the Galaxy have yet to lose in the El Trafico rivalry, posting a 1-0-2 record last season. In that respect, both teams have bragging rights coming in to the huge clash on Friday at Dignity Health Sports Park.

“I think this is great for the LA market,” Kennedy explained. “I think it’s great that you make the soccer supporters and Los Angeles make a decision on who they want to support and why. And the Galaxy’s history speaks for itself, it will be unrivaled until it’s rivaled. And I that’s not going to happen overnight, right? But it gives you this sense that Galaxy’s the big brother, LAFC’s the noisy neighbor and with how LAFC’s tracking right now I mean, they could be one of the best regular season MLS teams in the history of this league.”

Kennedy said he’s taken in LAFC games at The Banc “just as a fan of the game,” and was impressed with the “great soccer experience,” calling it “very inspirational.”

When it comes to the stakes for the season, Kennedy said he believed LAFC are unstoppable — with a key caveat.

“Yeah, probably I think [the Galaxy are] playing for second place. I think everyone in the West is going for second place. LAFC are just too good, if Carlos Vela stays fit. I think they’ll run away with the Supporters’ Shield, which is good for our league. I mean, it’s good to have teams look up and say this is what we need to do to compete if we want to compete. For the Galaxy, they’re far better than the last couple years, which is what we want to see. Still maybe a little bit too dependent on [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. But they can go out and do some damage.”

Even if LAFC seem out of reach for the Galaxy this season, Kennedy admitted that form can go out the door when it comes to a rivalry game.

“This is becoming a rivalry, even though it’s a it’s fabricated by the league as a rivalry week up the street game. I mean, it’s a rivalry, authentically in itself, just based on the games last season, and the Galaxy are still kind of holding one over on LAFC, last year [LAFC] couldn’t seem to beat them.

“With rivalry games, I mean it really doesn’t matter. You watch the best rivalries in the world when one of the teams is down in the dumps in league play. It doesn’t matter for that one-off game. Like when Liverpool is playing Everton, it’s always a blood bath. And that’s what I expect. And I look forward to going to that game and watching it just pop off because for the guys on the field, these games mean just a little bit more because you feel the representation of your fan base and what it means for them.”

Look out for Part two of our interview with Kennedy coming out next week.

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