Galaxy take the first round of three in Major League Soccer’s most heated rivalry

LA Galaxy competed to the end against Los Angeles FC to defeat their bitter rivals 2-1 in El Tráfico’s first appearance in 2021.

Analysis by Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer

Los Angeles Galaxy won the first of three matches against their most intense rival, the LA Football Club. (Graphic Illustration by Gene Wickham/The Valley Star)

In what was supposed to be a Mexican standoff, the Los Angeles Galaxy stood alone at Dignity Health Sports Park as they triumphed over the shorthanded LA Football Club.

Carson played host to the rivalry match-up this past Saturday as the back-and-forth match took place waiting for someone to take and make their star moment. LAFC forward Carlos Vela was unavailable to play in what would have been his first duel against Galaxy forward and former Mexican national team partner Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Chicharito took advantage of the talent that was missing from the LAFC side, pulling the strings until the referee blew the whistle, ending the contest.

In the 11th minute, new Galaxy defender Derrick Williams slid through the legs of LAFC defender José Cifuentes’ legs allowing the ball to fall in Chicharito’s path. The Mexican forward took advantage of the opportunity, slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner, past opposing goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega.

“It's just amazing to feel that energy of when the results come, when you give everything,” said Chicharito to reporters after the match, according to MLSsoccer.

Chicharito’s energy was needed during this match, but LAFC had their boosts of energy with their match-long 61 percent possession.

LAFC kept the intensity up after falling behind grabbing a few opportunities before halftime, but the Galaxy kept the lead going into half. Both sides struggled with a structure defensively, leading to nail-bitingly close moments.

“The Galaxy cannot continue to do this for the rest of the game or they will concede a goal,” exclaimed color commentator Stu Holden on the television broadcast.

Seconds later in the 62nd minute, after a magic touch from LAFC forward Corey Baird, the ball found its way to his striking partner, Diego Rossi. Rossi — the 2020 MLS Golden Boot winner — tucked it home past English goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, knotting it up at one.

A touch of brilliance from Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney led to teenager Efraín Álvarez replacing the ever-reliable Sebastian Lletget in the midfield.

Minutes thereafter in the 79th minute, Álvarez’ burst of energy proved dividends toward the end result. The wonderkid started a fast break, which led to a cross that found Chicharito’s cleats in the penalty box. A quick through-ball was sent through and midfielder Jonathan dos Santos powered the ball home into the net, sending the Galaxy faithful into a frenzy.

The chirping sounds and whistles followed the referee as the match neared the 90th minute. Into extra time the match went, where the whistle was finally blown and the match finished 2-1 in favor of the Galaxy.

“They laid it out all there today,” Vanney said postgame to the Los Angeles Times. “Every single guy that went out there gave everything they had to the victory.”

Dos Santos pumped both his arms into the air, whilst in the same moment, Chichirito fell to the ground in exhaustion and relief. Both El Tri (the Mexican national team) members competed until the end, carrying their club to victory.

El Tri reigned supreme on the epic night in Carson.