El Trafico Preview: LA Galaxy against a wall, LAFC trying to get on a roll

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CARSON, CA - AUGUST 14: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy warms up prior to the MLS match between the Colorado Rapids and the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center on August 14, 2018 in Carson, California. The Rapids and Galaxy played to a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Preview (August 23, 2018) – The final installment of the 2018 El Trafico series between LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC will take place this coming Friday. A sold-out StubHub Center will welcome the Galaxy who are winless in four and desperately in need of a morale boost.

El Trafico Preview: LA Galaxy against a wall, LAFC trying to get on a roll

The first two meetings between these teams have not disappointed. In an MLS Game of the Year candidate, LA Galaxy got a stunning 4-3 win after being down three goals that included a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his debut. Less than a month ago, the sides renewed hostilities. LAFC had a 2-0 but the match ended 2-2 with Tyler Miller probably having nightmares that night.

LA Galaxy struggling, especially on defense:

The Galaxy have had an ignominious August. They lost on August 4 to Colorado Rapids after scoring first. They drew two games from winning positions at home. Then with five starters missing (including Zlatan, cause he doesn’t play on turf), they suffered one of the worst losses in club history on Saturday, a 5-0 loss to Seattle Sounders.

This team is on the brink of falling off a cliff right as the push for the playoffs is about to begin. The defense continues to be a tire fire with Manager Sigi Schmidt struggling to say something new and insightful about what’s wrong and how to fix it. This team is very much reliant on winning games 3-2, not 1-0.

With three DPs still recovering, the Galaxy might as well be called the Los Angeles Zlatans on Friday. They’ll need a miracle equivalent or better to their last two El Trafico results to get a win on Friday.

LAFC back on an upward trajectory:

Similar to the Galaxy, LAFC had a rough few weeks until recently. Their El Trafico draw came on the heels of a 5-1 drubbing to Minnesota United FC. Two games later, they lost the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in PKs. They then suffered their first-ever defeat at home.

Bob Bradley’s men got out of their funk last week, collected six points in two games against Western Conference opponents. They had an excellent performance against Real Salt Lake last Wednesday. They’ve also added reinforcements in Danilo Silva and Cristian Ramirez.

This team still doesn’t have a reliable No. 6 (not that the Galaxy midfield has much bite right now). They’re stacked up top though and they’re clicking again. Just in time for them to exorcise their late-game demons against their cross-town rivals.

Bragging rights and playoff hopes on the line:

These teams are in fifth and third in the Western Conference respectively. Ten points separate first in the conference from being out of the playoffs. This is a six-pointer with a win for either side ending a skid or turning a nice run into a needed winning streak.

As with the other two games, all eyes in Los Angeles will be on this matchup. While the Galaxy have some star power, they’re very much a shell of their former selves. LAFC are fighting for respect in their first year in trying to make the playoffs and add a championship of their own (the universal thing LA sports fans value above all else).

The stakes couldn’t be higher for an MLS game in August. The teams couldn’t be in more opposite trajectories. It should make for a drama-filled match on Friday night.

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