Living in Northern California, I still had yet to go to a Los Angeles Football Club home game, and I figured what better time to go than the matchup against the Galaxy? So my parents and I made the trip down for the game.
The pregame hype could not be bigger, LAFC at the top of the league running the Western Conference, but still had not beaten the LA Galaxy yet.
After navigating some of the lovely LA traffic that gave this rivalry its name, we encountered our first adventure, parking.
We found a residential street where some of the residents were allowing people to park in their driveways. It was only $40, not a bad price (really!) compared to some of the lots, but we had to maneuver into the space between two houses, not an easy feet for our minivan rental.
Having solved that puzzle, we made our way to the stadium. The atmosphere was electric, and we were only at the gates going in. But we could hear The 3252 already singing and chanting, and it was getting people pumped.
There were a fair amount of Galaxy fans there, one of them dressed head to toe in white, a white Galaxy jersey, white jeans, a white hat, even all white shoes. Clearly trying to counter LAFC’s initiative to “Blackout LA.”
Banc of California really is a stadium of the future, both aesthetically from the outside, and how it functions. The walkways are not only nice and new, but they are wide, and don’t lead to a lot of bottlenecking of fans trying to walk, like a lot of older stadiums.
Our seats were in the south end of the stadium, and as we got there, we could tell the sightlines were perfect. We had a good view of the whole field, and as we were on the opposite side of The 3252, we got to observe them in their full glory.
After the national anthem the tifo came out in the north end, and it was impressive.
"Take me home..."#LAFCvLA // Heineken #RivalryWeek pic.twitter.com/dlg3hIsvxr— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 26, 2019
The atmosphere before kickoff was electric. I’ve been to MLS games in San Jose, a Cascadia matchup in Seattle for Sounders vs. Whitecaps, and a game in New York before too.
But I had never experienced anything like this. The only thing that comes close was a USA vs. Mexico match at the Rose Bowl a few years ago. One fan was a little too excited, and he slipped and fell and spilled beer all over my dad. Quite a way to start the game.
Sadly, the atmosphere took a slight hit right after kickoff, as the Galaxy scored within two minutes. Of course it was Zlatan who scored, and we could hear the Galaxy fans in the corner going crazy, as well as the couple of Galaxy fans in our section.
There was also a guy sitting behind us with a raspy voice who seemed to be rooting for both LAFC and Zlatan. Go figure.
Still, LAFC shrugged that goal off and kept attacking. LAFC were attacking our end in the first half, and whenever they got close to the box our whole section would stand up. This continued into the second half, even as LAFC attacked the other end, so we just ended up standing for most of the game.
Soon after the opener, LAFC equalized through Latif Blessing, and the stadium erupted. It felt like all our frustration from going down early, combined with past results against the Galaxy were exhaled in the post goal celebration.
Things would get worse before they got better, as the Galaxy got two quick strike goals to go up 3-1 in the first 15 minutes.
Credit to The 3252 who kept the energy up throughout the first half, as our section seemed to be collectively shellshocked.
Near the end of the first half, “Jump for LA Football Club” began, seemingly to boost the fans if not the players themselves. And it seemed to work, as some people in our section got up and jumped, to say nothing of the whole 3252.
And not two minutes later, Blessing scored again to make it 3-2. Coincidence? I wouldn’t bet on it.
The second half was totally different. Carlos Vela scored early in the half to tie the game, and that really brought the crowd back into it.
LAFC also just played much better, constantly attacking the Galaxy goal while limiting the chances for Zlatan and Christian Pavon on the other end.
In the end no winner came, and it was slightly disappointing, but it was a thrilling match to be at.
If you have still not been to an LAFC game in person, I cannot advise you strongly enough to go. I would also advise sitting (or standing) behind one of the goals. It gives you a different view of the game than on TV. You get a straight ahead view, so you can see space that midfielders like Blessing or Mark-Anthony Kaye are dribbling into.
You can see how Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura line up against Zlatan on goal kicks and free kicks, whether they are playing him offside, or if they are on behind him to prevent any balls played over the top.
And if you do sit in the south end of the stadium, you can get a good view of The 3252 in all their glory. It’s certainly a sight to see.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!