The MLS Battle of Los Angeles might be called El Trafico, but the action is usually open and free-flowing whenever the LA Galaxy and LAFC square off — and we get the season’s first installment on Saturday night.
LAFC claimed city bragging rights last year by lifting the MLS Cup and should be among the contenders again in 2023, despite losing forwards Gareth Bale and Cristian Arango during the offseason.
For an LA Galaxy team that can dazzle in attack and blunder at the back, this is a good early test – but a hamstring injury for star man Chicharito could put more pressure on the shoulders of Dejan Joveljic and Douglas Costa here.
Check out our free LA Galaxy vs LAFC picks and predictions for a closer look at this February 25 derby.
LA Galaxy vs LAFC best odds
LA Galaxy vs LAFC picks and predictions
Last season’s thrilling MLS Cup victory, coupled with the Supporters’ Shield, finally gave LAFC the year they had been craving. Those achievements showcased the strength and resolve of this roster, and the spine of that team is largely in place as they try to become the first team to win back-to-back MLS Cups since the Galaxy did it in 2012.
It all starts with Carlos Vela, who turns 34 next month and has been on this journey with LAFC since 2018. Vela scored 12 league goals in 2022 and his life is made easier by the club’s classy midfield trio of Ilie Sanchez, Jose Cifuentes and Kellyn Acosta, who all made big contributions on the MLS Cup run. That continuity is LAFC’s trump card heading into the 2023 season, and adding USMNT defender Aaron Long in the offseason certainly doesn’t hurt either.
In contrast, the Galaxy camp feels less settled. Julian Araujo’s off-again, on-again transfer to Barcelona was only completed last week, while Chicharito’s hamstring injury in training this week makes him a doubt for El Trafico.
LAFC have had the better of the last two meetings too, beating the Galaxy 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinals and winning by the same scoreline in their last league matchup in July.
With this game taking place at the Rose Bowl rather than the Galaxy’s home turf at Dignity Health Sports Park, I like these odds even more. I’ll be taking LAFC to land the first blow in this season’s rivalry.
My best bet: LAFC moneyline (+140 at bet365)
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LA Galaxy vs LAFC side analysis
The odds are pretty tight for all three outcomes on Saturday, with LAFC installed as narrow favorites — though if Chicharito is officially ruled out for the Galaxy, those odds could swing further.
LAFC have been strong starters, winning all five of their season openers since taking their MLS bow in 2018. After a shaky start to the preseason, Steve Cherundolo’s men won their final two friendlies, including a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC.
As if the challenge of taking down their city neighbors wasn’t enough here, the Galaxy also kick off the season against the backdrop of unrest among supporters and a possible boycott from a section of the fanbase.
On a more positive note, this could be the breakout season for 23-year-old Riqui Puig in the Galaxy midfield, with the former Barcelona man set for big minutes.
LA Galaxy vs LAFC Over/Under analysis
If past meetings between these teams are any indication, we’re going to get goals on Saturday. Last season featured two 3-2 thrillers, and eight of their past 16 MLS meetings have served up five or more goals. There’s the possible absence of Chicharito to consider plus the potential for early-season rust on both sides, but I still expect goalscoring chances with all the playmaking talent on show.
LAFC are forced to move on without Bale and Arango, but the champs were the top scorers in the Western Conference last season with 66 goals. Between Vela, Denis Bouanga and Kwadwo Opoku, I see Cherundolo’s men being deadly once more at that end of the field.
The Galaxy leaked 51 goals during the 2022 regular season and it’s a big ask to expect that defensive record to improve here, despite the arrival of experienced center-back Chris Mavinga. Attack may again be the best form of defense for Greg Vanney’s men.
Still, the Over/Under odds are tricky for this instalment of El Trafico. With the past history of this fixture, there are short odds for both teams to score and Over 2.5 total goals in anticipation of another high-scoring match.
LA Galaxy vs LAFC game info
|Location:||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA|
|Date:||Saturday, February 25, 2023|
|Time:||9:30 p.m. ET|
LA Galaxy vs LAFC key injuries
LA Galaxy: Chicharito ST (Questionable).
LAFC: Maxime Crepeau GK (Out).
LA Galaxy vs LAFC weather
The Saturday forecast is bleak in Pasadena, with rain expected throughout the day and a chance of showers around kickoff as temperatures drop into the 40s.