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El Paisano

The Battle for Los Angeles

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The Battle for Los Angeles

via @LAFC Twitter

via @LAFC Twitter

via @LAFC Twitter

Los Angeles Football Club has won its first two matches while Los Angeles Galaxy has just confirmed footballing legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an option to play this Saturday at the StubHub Center when the newest rivalry in the city is inaugurated at noon.

The Battle for Los Angeles, or “El Trafico” (the rivalry’s new nickname), is billed as a blockbuster matchup which is going to be televised on Fox 11, something that comes as a surprise given Major League Soccer’s lack of television coverage on national major networks.

Santa Fe High School alumnus Katherine Lopez is a long-time Galaxy supporter and lover of the game who believes this rivalry will amplify the league’s status.

The once girl’s varsity soccer standout for the Chieftains is aware of LAFC’s talents and thinks the arrival of manager Bob Bradley’s side is fantastic for the city.

“LAFC did a good job of bringing in the right players, it’s good for MLS as a whole,” Lopez said, “I’m excited, I think LAFC is going to be another championship-chasing team that will bring titles to LA and I think it’s going to challenge the Galaxy in all the areas they need to be challenged in.”

The Black and Gold will enter this weekend’s clash with impetus for this heavyweight bout while the Galaxy’s MLS experience under the spotlight will secure that, despite LAFC’s dominate start, it won’t be an easy task for either team to win.

On the field, the clubs are sun and moon. The Galaxy’s continental-style of direct passing going up-field, with structure at the center of the park to regain possession and look to unleash forward quickly is a static tactic used by head coach Sigi Smidt throughout his career.

His counterpart Bradley’s approach is of the more appealing-type: the fast-paced, free-flowing, quick passing method is more dazzling on the eye.

Much like Atlanta United last season, LAFC are looking to put-out a more dynamic concept which enjoys its football and includes the fans in its plans when believing that a more elegant type of style is also a requirement to appeal the people watching.

The 5-1 thumping of Real Salt Lake three weeks ago proved the Black and Gold aren’t easing into the league – it’s been a great start to the MLS for LAFC and while the Galaxy stumble out of the gates, LAFC seem to be as confident on the field in the first month than any other side across the league.

LAFC has arrived but it’s been over two decades of MLS in Los Angeles and the Galaxy continue to rule the City of Angels.Since its inception in 1996, the Galaxy have won a league-high five MLS Cups, two U.S. Open Cups, four Supporters’ Shield titles, and one Champions’ Cup Winners Cup, certifying them as one an MLS powerhouses.

The 2007 signing of superstar David Beckham put the Galaxy in pole position as the main destination for international superstars ready to jump to the MLS. Irish forward Robbie Keane followed, then English legend Steven Gerrard.

With the arrival of  Ibrahimovic, it’s time for the Swedish legend to carry the mantle and lead the Galacticos to its sixth title.

The Swede comes to a Galaxy squad which has dipped in form as of the past couple seasons. Last year’s last place finish in points (tied with D.C. United with 34) amongst the entire league was a new low for soccer in LA since the days of Chivas USA.

“We need to bring in top names that are going to produce,” Lopez said, “So hopefully he produces sooner rather than later.”

After starting the season 1-1-1 without their newest toy and not playing particularly well in either of the three matches, Ibrahimovic’s influence on the team will be heavily dependent on helping the squad play a more glamorous way from the gate – especially with the sexy, attractive new team coming to town with some momentum this Saturday.

“I think [LAFC] is going to work Galaxy’s defense a lot. They’re going to find open spaces with Diego Rossi and Vela,” Lopez said, “They’re going to really test the Galaxy’s defense but I still think LA Galaxy is going to come at them with Kamara and maybe Zlatan so it’s going to be a pretty good clash.”

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The Battle for Los Angeles