How LAFC victory over Galaxy in El Trafico marks turning point for MLS

Thursday's El Trafico was billed as a watershed moment in Major League Soccer, a match that was filled with all the hype that surrounds big games in other major American league sports -- and it actually delivered.

The Western Conference semifinal match was a derby game, the sixth meeting between LAFC and the LA Galaxy.

The first five meetings set up the sixth -- LAFC, MLS's record-setting Supporters' Shield winner, had yet to beat the Galaxy.

And Thursday's match certainly had an LA feel, complete with celebrities like Will Ferrell  wearing an LAFC captain's armband and celebrating in the 3252 and Magic Johnson, if you believe Zlatan Ibrahimovic, drinking coffee with the VAR official who missed the offside call on Carlos Vela's second goal for LAFC.

El Trafico VI ended with a 5-3 victory for the home team, tying an MLS record for goals in a playoff game, but not before LAFC, like the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls last weekend, blew a 2-0 lead.

Forget for a moment the match featured little defending and some really bad goalkeeping by LAFC's Tyler Miller (on Ibrahimovic's tying goal).

Thursday's El Trafico was the rare soccer match where if you turned away for a moment you'd miss something.

And that continued into the post-game with LAFC coach Bob Bradley telling ESPN sideline reporter Sebastian Salazar to "get lost," and Ibrahimovic grabbing his crotch  as he walked past an LAFC heckler.

But LAFC's victory over the Galaxy was a watershed moment for MLS in another way. It sent LAFC into the conference finals, where for the first time in the league's 24 years all four teams are expansion teams:

-- Toronto FC (2007)
-- Seattle (2009)
-- Atlanta United (2017)
-- LAFC (2018)

The Galaxy, winner of a record five MLS Cup titles, was the founding member from the league's launch in 1996 still alive in the playoffs.

Toronto FC, Seattle and Atlanta United are all former champions, and all four teams represent turning points in the ambitions of the league.

The Sounders, who shattered all MLS attendance records with their entry into the league, brought Clint Dempsey back from England in 2013. Toronto FC shelled out more than $18 million in salaries for Designated Players Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore when they became a trio in 2015.

Atlanta United set a new standard with its move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where it averaged more than 50,000 games for the last two seasons, and broke new ground with the signing of Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez one after the other from clubs in Argentina over the last three seasons.

And now they are joined by LAFC with MLS records in its second season for points (72), goals (85, tied the 1998 Galaxy) and goal difference (plus-48).

And an energy about it that is unique in MLS history.

5 comments about "How LAFC victory over Galaxy in El Trafico marks turning point for MLS".
  1. frank schoon, October 25, 2019 at 9:18 a.m.

    If Zlatan is going to stay, Galaxy better invest in some excellent defenders. Buy a few no-nonsense Italian defenders and a better #6 CM.....

  2. humble 1 replied, October 25, 2019 at 11:36 a.m.

    The contrary to that is, that as long as MLS underinvests in defense, including players and coaches, players that cannot score elsewhere will come here and easily score goals.  Zlatan knows this better than anyone.  So too does Josef Martinez, the nobody at Torino to record setting goal scorer in MLS smart-guy who in spite of probably his agent's whispers in ear chose to stay in MLS rather than test the waters again in Europe.  Easy money and easy goals in MLS, for the time being.  For this reason, more likely than not that Zlatan stays, but if the price is right...  

  3. frank schoon replied, October 25, 2019 at 12:01 p.m.

    Humble ,you might be right, but if I were Zlatan seeing how bad their defense is it would become a headache for him to score goals and still not win because it's a sieve in the back. I commiserate with him for he doesn't show his anger outwardly due to the bad passes he receives which are way below the standards he's used to.....He will like the money offered but  you can't tell me he won't wants to see a defensive adjustment...wouldn't you?

  4. Ric Fonseca, October 25, 2019 at 1:37 p.m.

    Zzzzlatan's arrogance will be the end of him, that PK says he grabbed his crotch while facing an LAFC fan, not only shows his arrogance but certain insecurity and childishness!  And at least most of the Carson Galaxy team remained on the pitch adffter the final whistle but where was the (in)famous Ibra?  Carson Galaxy is better off without him and the coach and GM, ought to start looking to maybe get El Chucky, Chicharito or some other player.  

  5. Andrew Brown, October 25, 2019 at 2:06 p.m.

    The game also highlighted the gap that MLS has between it's high dollar offensive DP players and the blue collar fit-under-the-cap defenders. 

    The front lines that ended the game, Alessendrini-Ibra-Pavon| Rossi-Vela-Diomande are high class. As compared to the back lines that looked utterly lost at times handling the basic aspects of the game. 

    Have a feeling we'll see some DP defenders come into the league, in coming years, to match the caliber of offensive prowess that has been paid for. 

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