EDITORIAL – Los Angeles FC host LA Galaxy this evening in the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals. The winner advances to play Seattle Sounders FC in the Conference Finals. This will be the sixth time these two teams have played each other and the first time in the playoffs. This playoff El Trafico may be the most anticipated playoff game of the MLS 3.0 era.
LA Galaxy Playing With House Money in Playoff El Trafico
LAFC got a bye from being the first seed in the conference. They have not played a match since October 6. The Galaxy played 90 minutes in the cold on Sunday night at Minnesota United FC, a match the Galaxy won 2-1 in a very nervy affair.
The Galaxy will come into this game tired but riding an adrenaline high. On the other side, LAFC will be fully rested but perhaps a bit rusty given the long layoff they’ve had. Whether these forces cancel each other out or we’ll have to wait and see.
In both games this year, the Galaxy survived LAFC by the skin of their teeth with some heroic, albeit unconvincing, defending. Guillermo Barros Schelotto played four center backs in a back four on Sunday and a very conservative midfield lineup. This worked result-wise but the Galaxy gave up chances. Minnesota’s attackers weren’t on a great run of form. If the Galaxy give up those kinds of chances to LAFC, specially MVP Carlos Vela, goals will be scored.
In this, on paper LAFC are comfortable favorites. It will take more quality emergency defending and peak big stage Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the Galaxy to win this game. Or that is what one would expect.
LAFC has yet to beat the LA Galaxy. Manager Bob Bradley and company have acknowledged that there is a mental road block with this team. Zlatan is in their heads. Being tied or down a goal late in a game against this team makes them nervous. Even when they’ve been the better side in the game, they’ve had trouble finishing the job.
In that, all the pressure is on LAFC tonight. Their the Supporters’ Shield champions, a title that normally hasn’t led to teams winning MLS Cup. They’re the best team ever in MLS and playing at home. Nothing short of the best effort from the opponent who are clearly weaker than them should be expected to win.
The Galaxy are playing with house money in this playoff El Trafico. All the pressure is on LAFC. And should LAFC slay their Kryptonite Dragon, it could give them the momentum to go on and win MLS Cup. Just another reason this game is must-watch.