MLS

LA Galaxy v Los Angeles FC: Preview and prediction

By Sports Desk April 15, 2023

LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney acknowledges his side are no longer the powerhouse they once were in MLS, as his out-of-form team prepare for a derby clash with Los Angeles FC this weekend.

The LA rivals will play out the latest edition of El Trafico at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday, with Galaxy looking to arrest a dismal start to the 2023 season.

Galaxy are winless in their first six MLS matches, with three draws and three defeats leaving them just above the foot of the Western Conference.

It almost a decade since Galaxy were the dominant force in the competition, and with LAFC's own MLS Cup success last term, they have been supplanted as the dominant force in southern California since the latter's arrival in 2018.

Vanney said: "We understand where we're at, and we understand where we're going, and we also understand the context of the situation.

"There are now 29 teams in the league that are also trying to do the same thing. This is no longer a league of 12 teams or 19 teams of which the Galaxy is the spender.

"We're in a league with a lot of very ambitious clubs and teams and, some that have [spent] are ahead of us in terms of making roster decisions who have settled their groups in."

Steve Cherundolo, meanwhile, is paying no attention to the difference in ladder position between the two sides ahead of their encounter.

Instead, the LAFC boss is expecting the usual feisty derby and hard-fought battle for points.

"It's always competitive," he said. "We will always see the best of the Galaxy. We expect much of the same on Sunday."

The pair split the win share equally in four games last term, though it was LAFC who claimed El Trafico's most crucial game in the play-offs last year.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LA Galaxy – Riqui Puig

Former Barcelona midfielder Puig has been busy in attack, even if he has lacked the reward, having made 37 attempts to take on defenders this season.

Puig has been successful on 24 occasions. No player with 25 or more attempts this season has a higher success rate than Puig, with 64.8 per cent.

LAFC – Carlos Vela

Vela has scored 10 goals in 11 career MLS appearances against the Galaxy, the joint-best for any player against a single opponent since LAFC joined the league in 2018.

That said, he has not found the back of the net in any of his last four meetings in El Trafico, marking something of a barren run for him.

MATCH PREDICTION – LAFC WIN

Galaxy and LAFC each claimed victory in their two home matches against the other in 2022, including the latter's 3-2 win during the play-offs. Eight of the 16 MLS meetings between the sides have featured at least five goals, including each of the last two.

Galaxy have earned just three points in their first six matches this season (W0 D3 L3), matching their worst-ever record for fewest points at this stage of a season, set during the 1997 campaign.

LAFC have won their first four home matches this MLS season but have played out scoreless draws in both of their away games. Prior to those last two encounters, none of their first 77 away trips in MLS had finished without at least one goal.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

LA Galaxy - 34.5 per cent

LAFC - 38.1 per cent

Draw - 27.4 per cent

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