Saturday evening sees a heavyweight clash in MLS as two Los Angeles teams, LAFC and LA Galaxy, go head-to-head at Bay Lake in Florida (10.30pm ET). In this seventh renewal of what has been dubbed ‘El Trafico’, the city rivals will both be hoping to improve after relatively weak starts to the tournament.
Since the return of MLS in its updated capacity, Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy have played once each. The former kicked things off by drawing 3-3 with Houston Dynamo, while the latter slumped to a disappointing defeat against Portland Timbers, losing by two goals to one.
Goals galore for Bob Bradley’s men
Ever since LAFC entered the league back in 2018, they have had little problem scoring goals. Their inaugural campaign saw them notch an impressive 68, the highest total in the Western Conference, a feat that they repeated last year with an eye-watering 85. There may be a new format since the return of play, but from a goalscoring point of view, nothing has changed for LAFC, who hit three in their opening match against Houston.
However, for all their pleasing attacking efforts, they’re not the most astute defensively. The Texan side put three past a relatively weak-looking back-line last time out, while Bradley’s men also shipped three goals in their final match before COVID-19 put a stop to soccer around the globe back in March.
There has been no shortage of goals in this fixture. Both teams have scored at least once in each of the six renewals, while both have scored two or more in five of those six. Each of the last three El Trafico games have produced a minimum of five goals, with the latest producing eight. It’s safe to say that fans get value for money when these two collide.
LAFC come into this tournament without the talismanic Carlos Vela, who for many is the best player in the league. This means that their ability to really turn on the style offensively has been hampered. They have options and remain strong going forward, but their threat level naturally decreases when the man who notched 36 goals last season isn’t present.
LA Galaxy are also missing an important Mexican. Dynamic playmaker Jonathon Dos Santos remains out after picking up an injury back in March. Much like Vela for LAFC, Dos Santos is a key player for Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s men, who are undoubtedly weakened by the absence of their midfield maestro.
Expect plenty of shots
Not only does this fixture generally offer plenty of goals, but it also tends to throw up a barrage of shots. When the pair met towards the end of 2019, in a game that finished 5-3 to LAFC, 28 shots were amassed. The record for this fixture is 37 shots, while the average sits at a lofty 29.8. Since arriving in Florida for the revised schedule, the pair have been forthcoming in terms of shooting, delivering a combined 36 first time out.
Who comes out on top?
If both were at absolute full strength during a normal campaign, then it would be tough to go against LAFC, but this isn’t a normal campaign, nor are they at full strength. The absence of Carlos Vela is huge, while as we saw last time out, they are anything but strong at the back.
Galaxy certainly aren’t defensive wizards, while they too are missing an important player, though they might just fancy their chances having seen how their rivals defended against Houston last week. After all, they are no strangers to upsetting the odds in this fixture having lost just one of the six renewals of this fixture.
Galaxy worth taking a chance on
The odds of around -150 with the USA sports betting websites suggest that LAFC should win this game without much of a fuss, but that seems a little unfair. They simply aren’t the same side without Vela, while their forceful, attacking style may just play into the hands of the Galaxy, who have players who can be useful on the break. We saw Houston cause Bob Bradley’s men lots of problem playing on the counter last time out, which suggests that Schelotto’s side can get serious here.
Against Portland, LA Galaxy didn’t cover themselves in glory, but they still created chances, while things could easily have been different had Chicharito netted from the spot early in the first half. With a neat passer like Sacha Kjlestan in their ranks, Galaxy should find it easy to get pacey players like Pavon in behind LAFC’s high-line, and with a top poacher in Hernandez, goals could come easily to the men in white.
At the end of the day, as we have seen on several occasions, this fixture is often something of an end-to-end whirlwind that can go either way, but all things considered, it looks as though the odds underestimate Galaxy and thus a punt on them to come out on top offers punters a slice of value.
So, for the Los Angeles Derby betting pick, our LAFC vs LA Galaxy predictions go like this:
- Bet on Galaxy to win on the moneyline @ best odds of +340 with Bovada Sportsbook.