Five Reasons Everyone Gets Hyped For LAFC–Galaxy

As the Black & Gold welcomes its suburban neighbors to LA for their 22nd all-time clash, we break down the characteristics of the conflict.

LAFC LAG Bouanga Rose bowl

Last summer, asked its MLS writers to rank the top rivalries in Major League Soccer. Those scribes, Jeff Carlisle, Kyle Bonagura, and Cesar Hernandez, chose the ongoing clash between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders as the fiercest feud in the league, based on the fact that it dates back to 1975 and “has spanned multiple leagues -- five, to be exact -- and several generations of players and fans.”

In second place, they chose a rivalry that’s just six years old, ranking LAFC vs. Galaxy ahead of other MLS clashes with far longer histories. Bonagura explained why. “Real rivalries cannot be forced,” he wrote,

… Yet this is more than just an on-field rivalry. This is a fight for the hearts and minds of the people of LA. For two-plus decades, the Galaxy not only ruled the city, but were the example that other MLS teams aspired to be. The Galaxy paved the way for what was possible. Those lessons -- both the successes and failures -- made it easier for new teams to get things right from the beginning and from that perspective, no team has benefitted more than LAFC. In just a few years, LAFC have surpassed the Galaxy in just about every way. Now the pressure's on the Galaxy to get back up.

In just over half a decade, this match has come to mean everything to the players and supporters involved, based on these five criteria:

LAFC LAG Vela Chicharito walkout


Whether it’s Vela and Zlatan (the top two scorers in the rivalry’s history, with 12 and 9 goals, respectively) … Chicho and Chicharito … Bale and Puig …or Kljestan and Chiellini … the top players in this series rarely require more than one name. The clashes between these two clubs have always featured a cast of football celebrities – to say nothing of the Hollywood stars watching in person.

And the stage is always set for the next wave – like Gen-Z-ers Omar Campos and David Martinez – to etch their names into this derby’s Walk of Fame.

2023 LAFC LAG tifo


Every installment in this rivalry has been played at LAFC’s home stadium in the heart of LA, or at the Galaxy’s pitch in Carson— with two contrasting exceptions. In July 2020 the two clubs played in Orlando, Florida, in the MLS Is Back tournament, in front of zero fans (due to COVID restrictions). And last July they faced off in the Rose Bowl in front of 82,110 supporters— the largest crowd in MLS history.

Attendance-wise, LAFC-Galaxy matches rank only behind the Portland-Seattle rivalry, which has an advantage in that half of those games are played in Lumen Field, the 68,000-seat home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

average of last 10 meetings (without COVID restrictions)

Timbers-Sounders: 32,977
LAFC-Galaxy: 28,885
Columbus-Cincinnati: 24,482
NYCFC-NYRB: 21,652
Toronto-Montreal: 21,219
Dallas-Houston: 17,135


The numbers are uncanny in terms of how closely-contested this series is. LAFC and the Galaxy have met 21 times across all competitions, with the Galaxy winning nine matches and LAFC winning seven, plus five draws. LAFC has scored 45 goals and the Galaxy have scored 46.

The most amazing stat of all may be that just two of those 21 matches have been decided by more than two goals. (LAFC’s 6-2 rout in July 2020, and the Galaxy’s 3-0 win two months later.) Only six matches have been decided by two goals, including the most recent game, a 4-2 win by LAFC six months ago at BMO Stadium.

In other words, an astounding 13 of these 21 clashes have been decided by one goal or less. Neither of these two clubs wants the other to gain anything resembling an upper hand. When the two teams' academies met for the first time in 2016, the result was … a 3–3 draw.

LAFC 3252 invades Carson


Whether it was the back-and-forth spray-paint wars that took place on each team’s turf in 2018, before they had even played one another, or LAFC’s supporters’ takeover of Dignity Health Sports Park in April 2023 (where they watched LAFC’s first-ever road win in the series), or the colorful and imaginative tifos that have unfurled before kickoff, the emotions that surround these matches are unparalleled anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.

This sense of loyalty permeates the two teams, as well. Only three players have played for LAFC and then gone on to play for the Galaxy (defenders Niko Hämäläinen and Raheem Edwards, and current Galaxy goalkeeper John McCarthy). No player has ever played for the Galaxy, then played for LAFC.


The rivalry has produced some wild games, to say the least. The first-ever SoCal derby, six years ago this week, was also Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s MLS debut—and it was worth the price of admission. But the rivalry’s greatest matches were played when the stakes were highest. The clubs have met twice in the MLS Cup playoffs, with LAFC winning both tilts.

The Black & Gold’s 5-3 win in the 2019 Western Conference semifinal, in which Vela and Zlatan traded haymakers like two heavyweights, was LAFC’s first-ever victory in the derby. The stoppage-time winner by Chicho Arango in October 2022, which ended the Galaxy’s season and propelled LAFC toward its first MLS Cup title, stands as one of the most memorable nights in LAFC history.

LAFC continues its 2024 regular season on Saturday, April 6, with a home match against the Galaxy at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, FOX, and FOX Deportes; and on radio on 710 AM ESPN LA and 980 AM La Mera Mera (Spanish).

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