LAFC still has the edge, but Galaxy’s gains make El Trafico more fun – Orange County Register

PASADENA – You’re supposed to throw the records out in a rivalry game like El Trafico, the consistently compelling grudge match between L.A.’s two Major League Soccer teams.

But why would you want to?

Not this meeting. Not this season. Not with sole possession of first place in the Western Conference at stake Thursday night at the Rose Bowl, where 70,076 fans celebrated the Fourth of July with a 2-1 victory over the L.A. Galaxy at their original place of play.

Hot dogs, burgers, apple pie and … soccer.

Do we do that here?

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s recent results might leave some doubt, but in L.A.? Yeah, we do.

Fireworks in the sky and flares in the stands. Football in the Rose Bowl; futbol in the Rose Bowl.

LAFC asserting its advantage, subduing a much-improved Galaxy team in a match that reflected where the sides stand in this battle for Los Angeles, both teams streaking, tied atop the Western Conference with 40 points and a conference-best 41 goals.

After a long, nearly decade long dormancy, the Galaxy finally are gaining again. But LAFC is on another level.

Although this was the first time the two sides ran into one another with so much momentum – the Galaxy rode in having won four consecutive games and six of its past seven.

LAFC came in unbeaten in a club-record 11 consecutive games, including nine in a row in league play.

And LAFC added a tally to both of those totals after former Leuzinger High School star Kei Kamara headed in the game’s first goal in the 39th minute, Denis Bouanga cashed in on a penalty kick five minutes later and the Black & Gold defense dominated and frustrated their “hosts,” who were stuck and stymied for all of the first half.

The second half was more like it. More like El Trafico, which in its 22 previous editions, had never featured fewer than two goals and altogether has averaged 4.3 per goals match.

Accordingly, Gabriel Pec (who scored in the 56th minute Thursday) and Riqui Puig and Miki Yamane launched a heartfelt if short-lived response in the second half before LAFC put the lid on the match.

The Black & Gold’s victory was the second against the Galaxy this season and served to avenge last season’s 2-1 July 4th loss at the Rose Bowl – which had been good for bragging rights but not much else. The Galaxy finished a turbulent season 13th out of 14 Western Conference teams, with a total of 36 points.

This year, it’s different.

This year, the Galaxy promoted Will dKuntz to general manager and he made the prudent decision to invest in a couple of dynamic young wingers, Pec and Joseph Paintsil, who have helped turn the team into something their fans can be proud of.

So, yeah: This year, these El Trafic collisions really mean something, in the stands and in the standings.

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