The LA Galaxy and LAFC drew 1-1 Sunday, in a match that combined fan fights and quickfire goals.
By Benjamin Royer, Valley Life Editor
The final fight of El Tráfico this year was feisty as lines were blurred between a street fight and soccer as the night commenced.
With six matches to go as the regular season dwindles down in Major League Soccer, the near playoff-bound LA Galaxy (11-6-11) played to a tight 1-1 draw with the LAFC (9-7-12) squad whose playoff chances are drifting away as the season comes to a close. The Los Angeles derby started Sunday night off with a quick spark from LAFC defender Mamadou Fall and Galaxy forward Samuel Grandsir, but the light quickly dimmed towards the final whistle.
The close to full-capacity crowd of over 25,000 was energized and loud at the start of the match, but the Galaxy’s home of Dignity Health Sports Park was sent into a stunned silence 11 minutes into the contest. After the Galaxy conceded a corner kick, LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta whipped a cross into the air creating chaos in a packed penalty box. One head rose above the rest, as Fall guided the ball past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and into the top right corner of the net.
As the 18-year old Senegalese player ran towards the visiting supporters to celebrate, beer flew from the hands of LAFC fans creating a shower of soaking hope that their team could defeat their rivals. Fall joined the team on June 5, making his professional debut in Los Angeles after signing from the preparatory boarding school, Montverde Academy (FL).
“I feel great because I’ve been dreaming about this [since] years ago,” said Fall in the postgame press conference. “I was in high school watching El Tráfico and now I’m able to play and able to score, so it was great. We have a great environment here.”
The promise of victory was short-lived for the black and gold, as only minutes later the home supporters scored. In the 19th minute, Galaxy midfielder Víctor Vázquez sent a ball through the path of three LAFC defenders and to the feet of Grandsir. The Frenchman struck the ball into the net tying the game up at one.
The goal was much-needed for the Galaxy looking towards the future. If the Carson-based team was unable to pick up a point from the match, their playoff security would shrink - moving out of the postseason picture entirely.
Twenty-four shots from both teams were not enough to create a winning advantage for the rest of the match, preventing what could have been a dramatic end to the rivalry series.
The crowd, however, moved the attention away from the match and onto themselves. Brawls between fans took control of the narrative of the match postgame, causing both clubs to make a joint statement addressing the events that occurred.
“The LAFC and LA Galaxy are committed to growing the sport and the culture of soccer in Los Angeles and beyond,” the statement reads. “We are proud to share one of the most exciting new rivalries in the world. We are also committed to providing a safe and enjoyable environment for our guests and their families at all events and games. Fan violence has no place at our matches. The type of conduct displayed at the Aug. 28 and Oct. 3 games does not belong in the stands or anywhere in our game.”
The passage went on to warn fans of the “disciplinary action including ejections and bans” they could face for participating in brawls.