One of the biggest games in Major League Soccer is on the menu this weekend, as the Los Angeles Galaxy play host to their city rivals LAFC in the latest instalment of the Los Angeles Derby, better known as El Tráfico (7.30pm ET Saturday; TV: Live on Fox). Both teams will be looking to continue moving on up after picking up positive results last time out. Read on for our Galaxy vs LAFC preview with betting predictions and picks.
It’s been a little bit of a mixed start for the Galaxy boys, who began the new season with back-to-back 1-0 wins over NYCFC and newcomers Charlotte FC, though they couldn’t kick on, losing to both the Seattle Sounders and Orlando City in quick succession. After such defeats, there was a few doubts lingering over the ability of Greg Vanney’s men to seriously challenge for top spot in the west, and although such doubts are yet to be fully quelled, Saturday’s hosts showed their quality when coming out on top at Providence Park last time out, which is no easy place to go. After beating the Portland Timbers and scoring three goals in the process, confidence should be high in the Galaxy locker room.
Few teams have made a more solid start to the new campaign than LAFC. Saturday’s visitors arrive at this point as the best in the Western Conference in terms of points accumulated, thanks to winning four and tying one of their first five fixtures. There’s not a single team across Major League Soccer with a better record at this stage, and it already looks clear that Steve Cherundolo’s men mean business this time around.
Two solid home efforts
In truth, though they’ve only taken three points from a possible six at home so far this season, it’s not easy to criticise the efforts of the Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. They were rightful winners against NYCFC, as they created 1.8 xG and conceded only 0.8, while despite losing against Orlando, they were the more creative team. They also gave little away in defeat, conceding only 0.7 expected goals. Right now, Vanney’s men are surrendering an average of 0.75 xG, and if they can sustain such an average, then it’s likely that they’ll have a very pleasing home record once the season gets into full swing.
Beware the visitors
Sure, the Galaxy have a reasonably strong recent record against LAFC, but the way the visitors have started this campaign should make everybody fearful. Not only have they scored plenty of goals, scoring at least twice in four out of five, but they’ve done a very promising job of nullifying the threat of their opponents, conceding only four times, keeping a clean sheet in two out of five. As things stand at this early stage, no team in the west has a better expected goal difference than LAFC. Cherundolo’s men currently average +0.99 xG, which tells us that they’re very good at offering quite a bit more than their opponents in terms of forging goal-scoring opportunities.
Recent head-to-head record
In recent times, LAFC have found it surprisingly hard to come out on top against their city rivals, winning none of the last three renewals of this fixture, and they’ve also won just one of the last six El Tráfico showdowns. When the teams last met, at this venue back in October 2021, they tied 1-1, while they also tied at Banc of California Stadium (3-3) just two months prior to that.
It was the Galaxy who won the first meeting between this pair last season, winning by two goals to one at this venue, though it’s hard to say that the oldest MLS team in the city were deserved winners, as it was LAFC who created more, emerging with 0.6 expected goals supremacy. In fact, they were the better team when the pair shared six goals, posting a hugely impressive 3.0 xG compared to Galaxy’s 1.2. Now is the time to take revenge for the Saturday’s visitors.
LA Galaxy vs LAFC: Where’s the bet?
If you’re looking for the best bet here in terms of value for money, then the away win is hard to look beyond at odds of +160. The visitors will go Dignity Health Sports Park without a win in three El Tráfico’s, but they’ll know that they were comfortably the better team in two of those, while it is they who’ve made the more impressive start to the season.
Make no mistake about it, this Galaxy side is far from weak, and they’ve got what it takes to maintain a high position in the west, but they’ve shown less in terms of both defensive security and the ability to get results so far this season, which points towards a price of +160 on LAFC ending their winless run in this fixture being one worth taking.
Value on Vela
If a player prop is more to your taste, then how can you not be excited by the opportunity to support the best goal-getter in Major League Soccer to find the net at odds of +140. Rarely is such a price available, and thus this is the time to strike. The Mexican has already netted four times this season, averaging 1.02 goals per 90 minutes, while he averages a 2.05 shots on target per 90 minutes too.