Even though it is only in its fourth year, the crosstown rivalry between Los Angeles Football Club and the Galaxy has already proven itself worthy of being considered one of the most heated rivalries in Major League Soccer. The matchup first kicked off on March 31, 2018,
and fireworks ensued from the opening whistle. The Club’s first-ever Designated Player, Carlos Vela, showed the league his talents on the big stage – scoring two goals before the end of the first half. LAFC stalwart Eduard Atuesta made his first-ever Club and MLS appearance, helping LAFC break out to a 3-0 halftime lead, but the second half saw the momentum shift in historic fashion, with the Galaxy storming back to win in dramatic fashion behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two goals in his MLS debut.
That was quite the beginning of a rivalry, and because the series has produced so much excitement, we compiled a list of some of our favorite moments from the rivalry.
#5 - ROSSI POURS IT ON
After months off due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, LAFC and the MLS returned to play in the MLS is Back Tournament, a bubble-atmosphere event in Orlando, FL. In the first group play matchup, the Black & Gold fought Houston to a 3-3 draw, with the Galaxy looming next as their second match-up. Without Carlos Vela, LAFC stormed out of the gates, cruising to a 6-2 victory and the first regular season win over their crosstown rival. Diego Rossi scored an LAFC Club record four goals and added an assist, becoming the first MLS player to contribute to five goals in a game, twice.
#4 - THE ‘FAUX TRAFICO’
The onset of COVID-19 hit the sports world hard, relegating LAFC to the sidelines for months as the world was grappling with implications of the virus. The voice of the Club on the radio, Dave Denholm, was starving for LAFC action, and knew that fans were feeling the same way. So, although the league was still on hold, Denholm set about devising a plan to call an entire rivalry match…all in his head. What started as a challenge and a joke soon became a reality.
“The other day my wife asked me if I thought I could do 90 minutes of soccer play-by-play without an actual game going on. Just make it all up. I think I am getting close to trying it,” said Denholm.
Although the season was still postponed, Denholm treated May 16, 2020, the day that the 2020 edition of the rivalry would have kicked off – as a full match. Though he created it all in his head, what ensued was magic, and may as well have been the real thing.
#3 - LA CHARITY FIFA CHALLENGE
There is no question that there is little love lost between these two rival clubs. What is also important to acknowledge, is that they can also come together to work for a good cause, as they showed with the 2020 LA Charity FIFA Challenge. Similarly, to the ‘Faux Trafico,’ the two clubs were looking at ways to support their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two clubs landed on a FIFA match between their respective eMLS athletes, LAFC's Martin "RemiMartinn" Oregel and Galaxy's Giuseppe "GGGodfather" Guastella in a home-and-home FIFA20 series commentated by LAFC's Max Bretos and streamed on Twitch. The matchup ended in LAFC’s favor, but even more importantly, raised over $5,000 to support the fight against COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area.
#2 - CARLOS VELA SEALS THE WIN IN HIS RETURN
Fresh off of a knee injury that he sustained two months prior in another match against the Galaxy, reigning 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela came on as a substitute in the 68th minute to make his return to the pitch on October 25, 2020. LAFC was leading 1-0, but Vela put the Club ahead with an effortless chip in to goal in the 3rd minute of stoppage time to seal the win.
#1 - THE BLACK & GOLD DEFEAT THE GALAXY FOR THE FIRST TIME…IN THE 2019 WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SEMIFINALS
The stage was set on October 24, 2019. LAFC had just finished off the most dominant regular season in league history, taking the Supporters’ Shield and smashing records along the way. However, one thing still eluded the Black & Gold - a win against the rival Galaxy. Vela and forward Adama Diomande bagged a brace each in the match, and the Club outplayed the Galaxy all night long to the tune of a 5-3 win home at Banc of California Stadium, a thrilling way to register their first win of the all-time series as they ended the Galaxy’s season.