El Tráfico: Galaxy vs LAFC, at least one losing streak ends
The stoppable force meets the moving object on Sunday as the Galaxy hosts LAFC in the most unforeseen revival of the MLS long-distance rivalry known as the El Trafico.
The Galaxy (11-11-5) have lost three games in a row, haven’t had a win in eight straight, have only scored once in their last three games and haven’t led since the last El Trafico in August.
LAFC (9-12-6) has lost three games in a row, has lost a franchise record of 12 games this season and has led just 17 combined minutes in its last four games. departures.
Since both teams cannot lose, at least one losing streak will end on Sunday.
But the plummeting Galaxy might have a slight advantage. As the founding franchise of MLS, it has a story that LAFC, in its fourth season, cannot match – a fact the team will highlight just before kick-off when they unveil a bronze statue of Landon Donovan. next to David Beckham’s in Legends Plaza, outside the southwest entrance to Dignity Health Sports Park. At halftime, Donovan will be inducted into the team’s ring of honor inside the stadium.
When times are tough and a team is fighting as much as the Galaxy, relying on culture and tradition can provide a way out.
“The beauty of football especially in the world is that there are expectations that have to be met. There’s a sense of responsibility to keep going, ”said Donovan, who retired in 2016 as a career leader in goals and assists in MLS and with the US National Team.
“It’s the beauty of playing for a team that’s been in the league from day one.”
Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who played for giant clubs in Mexico, England and Spain before coming to MLS last year, agrees.
“Of course that helps,” Hernández said of the Galaxy, who have won a record 361 regular-season games and five league titles. “It gives me more passion, more responsibility and more desire to perform well.”
This story can be a double-edged sword as it motivates the other team as well.
“The standards here with this type of club, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain,” said Hernández, whose team entered the Western Conference sixth weekend. “You win, that’s normal. When you lose, this is the part that people aren’t used to.
LAFC won’t have to travel the field to find its motivation on Sunday. He can look at the standings. With just three wins in the past 10 weeks, the team entered the ninth conference weekend, two spots and five points out of a playoff spot with seven games to play. LAFC made the playoffs in each of its first three years, which is the story coach Bob Bradley relies on.
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“We talk about our story all the time, what we want it to be,” said Bradley, who will be without former league MVP Carlos Vela for the eighth game in a row. “We challenge ourselves all the time to believe in what we want to be, the identity of this club.”
Bradley also has a history with Donovan, having coached him for five years with the United States National Team.
“When you’ve coached guys like Landon, the memories you have of the work we’ve done together and the kind of teams we’ve had, the experiences we’ve shared, the challenges, those are still there.” , did he declare.
On Sunday some of those memories will be engraved in bronze, only the oversized likeness of Donovan will be wearing a Galaxy jersey, a nod not only to the player’s achievements but to the culture and tradition of the team.
“Few teams have the capacity to do things like this. You have to earn it, ”said Donovan, who won a record six MLS Cups in 15 seasons, 11 of which were with the Galaxy. “And when you win multiple championships, when you have players who have been with your club for five, seven, 10 years and more, then you win that.
“I’m sure LAFC will do it over time, just like the Galaxy has.”