The concept of that one opponent who, for whatever reason, just has your number is a Britishism that has progressively spread to other soccer nations. After the LA Galaxy’s 3-1 Round-of-16 triumph over LAFC on Wednesday night, the younger club in Southern California may have to accept that the name also applies to their crosstown rivals.
Especially at Dignity Health Sports Park, where the Galaxy have a commanding 6W-0L-2D all-time home record against their raucous northern neighbors.
“I believe it is a mental issue. They know it’s not going to be an easy game when they come here,” said Gs fullback and former LAFCer Raheem Edwards, who added another assist to his impressive 2022 campaign.
“It’s just the overall rivalry. It’s difficult to be away from home in a rivalry. They are well aware that it is a difficult assignment. As a result, I believe it may have crept into the back of their brains.
“Being on the LAFC side, I knew it was going to be a tough game when I arrived here at Dignity Health Sports Park.”
In addition, Edwards had added fuel to the fire by declaring his desire to “piss off” LAFC’s 3252 supporters club in the weeks leading up to the match. Tempers rose throughout the game, culminating in a protracted kerfuffle at the final whistle, topped by Julian Araujo flashing his Galaxy jersey at the visiting Black & Gold fans.
“This was, without a doubt, the tensest game I’ve ever played—well, the ones I’ve played so far. I think the rivalry needs this,” said Edwards, who was recently recalled to the Canadian men’s national team for his stellar play. “I think MLS is usually too polite; you see teams in the NBA and something like that, and you need a little bit of grit, a little bit of fight, and a little bit of drama. As a result, I thought this was ideal.”
When challenged about his pregame statements, he subsequently said, “I need to get my troops revved up, and I also want the drama. In terms of players, I believe MLS is a little too soft—I believe players are too conservative. All I’m trying to do is rekindle the flames between both sides and my players.”
While the visitors appeared bereft after Carlos Vela’s early departure due to a quad injury, the Galaxy seemed to enjoy the extra time. Following two consecutive brutal league losses on home ground, head coach Greg Vanney underlined the importance of this performance.
“Our guys’ reaction wasn’t just about LAFC; it was about losing two games in a row on our pitch, 3-1 and 3-0,” he explained. “The opposing team happened to be LAFC, which is a rivalry that definitely adds a little spice to the game.”