Every big soccer league has their iconic derby. It’s the kind of game that you mark down on your calendar months in advance. It’s the kind of game that the whole city pauses for. If you live in Madrid or Barcelona, there’s nothing more important than watching Messi go head to head with Christiano Ronaldo in a battle to once and for all determine the best player of the 21st century. If you live in Manchester, you won’t want to miss the historic duel between the titanic Red Devils and the rising star Manchester City. Even the less popular derbies of the world arouse a special flair from their community that you can’t match in any other game of the season.
Derbies are matches between rivals of close geographical proximity, and they are notorious for unbelievable performances and statistics. Most are fueled by the riotous crowds and fierce determination to defeat their rivals. In Brazil, the most recent Vitoria vs Bahia derby ended with 9 red cards and an abandoned match. In Serbia, the Eternal Derby between Red Star and Partizan historically ends with flare-fueled stadium fires and hundreds of arrests. Although these extreme examples paint a nasty picture, derbies are essential for the excitement of a soccer league. In the MLS, struggling with poor talent and low fan attendance, perhaps this new derby is exactly what they need.
LAFC is a new team to the MLS, having started just this season and played only two games so far. With the dissolution of a different LA team, Chivas USA, LAFC was awarded an expansion spot in the MLS and they have come hot out of the gates. In their first two games, LAFC defeated the Seattle Sounders, the defending Western Conference champions, and Real Salt Lake. Armed with an incredibly passionate fanbase, and an impressive roster, LAFC is one of the most ambitious MLS teams in the upcoming season.
LA Galaxy is an annual powerhouse team that constantly impresses. Their signing of David Beckham in 2007 began a period of success in which they have consistently reached the post-season playoffs and won 3 MLS cups. After beginning the season with a shaky 1-1-1 start, LA Galaxy just completed one of the most monumental signings in the history of the MLS, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Known for his overpowering ego and acrobatic goals, Ibrahimovic intends to make a showy entrance to the MLS this season. He already made a showy entrance to LA by posting a full-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times stating, “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome. -Zlatan Ibhrahimovic.”
With Ibrahimovic set to debut for LA Galaxy this Saturday in the inaugural El Tráfico, facing the momentous and fan-favorite newcomers of LAFC, the world of MLS is finally exciting. You can expect crowds, you can expect rivalry, and you can expect a passionate game of soccer. I urge you to join me in tuning in to this historic match in US Soccer this Saturday, March 31st, at 3pm EST as we watch the start of what will hopefully become one of the greatest rivalries in American sports.