It’s here, the big game day. It’s different, no doubt, as Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy will square off in their first rivalry game of the season, but all the way in Orlando and without any fans present.
Despite the strangeness of El Trafico in a bubble, let’s go over three things to watch for in what’s still a big game for the black-and-gold.
Will the defense find stability?
A lot of fans blame the defense as constituted or the hell for leather approach, while Bob Bradley called it individual mistakes. Either way, LAFC let in three goals in their first game back, against the Houston Dynamo, including a brace scored by the Dynamo’s fourth or fifth scoring option, Memo Rodriguez.
You can possibly explain it away with the true fact that it was four months since their last game. That’s totally fair! Except LAFC gave away three goals in their last game, too (albeit on short rest).
I think until Tristan Blackmon becomes the MLS Best XI center back the club is counting on we’re going to see more defensive performances that look like the wild 2018 days than the steady 2019 vintage, and if you haven’t come to terms with that yet than you probably should.
Having said that, the goal is to let in fewer goals than you’re scoring, and I think LAFC are certainly capable of improving in that regard. The attack was beyond promising in the first game (more on that below) but a shootout against the Galaxy is asking for trouble. We’ve all seen it happen too many times. And so, the aim will be for the defense to help carry the load better for the rest of the MLS is Back Tournament.
Can the three-headed monster continue to produce?
Perhaps the best sign from the game was how LAFC got goals from every one of their three forward line starters. Diego Rossi is clearly “the man” with Carlos Vela out, and he came through, and will be counted on to continue that. Bradley Wright-Phillips slotted in right away, and his goal showed why a pure central striker is needed in the lineup. And Brian Rodriguez broke his duck, with all but the haters hoping this opens the floodgates for the young Uruguayan.
At a certain point, an opposing defense will look to really neutralize Rossi, and then the other forwards. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if the Galaxy defense is actually good enough to do that, he could get free run yet again. But if Rossi, Rodriguez and BWP (who I assume will start again) can keep knocking in the goals, then the Vela-less lineup will continue to gain confidence in Orlando.
Will LAFC start to grab supremacy in the rivalry?
One game could be a fluke, not to take anything away from the playoff win, but you know it deep down. Yes, this is a rivalry game with an asterisk, but if LAFC can get another win, they can really turn the tenor of the rivalry. The Galaxy have yet to lose to LAFC in the regular season, but they feel like they’re already on the ropes, winless in three games in 2020 and coming off a loss in Orlando.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, however: Chicharito scored at the end of the last game and it was a trademark Chicharito goal. If we subscribe to the hope Rodriguez will now score so much more easily after getting his first, the same could be said for Chicharito. Plus, Cristian Pavon has torched LAFC before and he’s never a player to take lightly. Even with the Galaxy struggling, it would be foolish to take them lightly, especially given the history to date in the rivalry.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.