Los Angeles FC is struggling, and the Los Angeles Galaxy are enjoying a hot stretch as the clubs engage in the latest installment of the El Trafico rivalry on Saturday night at LAFC's home field.
It is the fourth matchup between the clubs this season. The Galaxy are 2-1 in the clashes, including an epic 2-1 win before an MLS-record 82,110 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 4.
"Regardless of the points it's super important," Galaxy forward Tyler Boyd said of the matchup. "It's for the bragging rights and the LA rivalry is huge."
The Galaxy (7-10-9, 30 points) are in 13th place in the Western Conference but stand just four points behind ninth-place FC Dallas, the team currently in the final playoff position. The Galaxy are 5-1-6 over their past 12 MLS matches, including a 2-2 tie against visiting St. Louis City on Sunday.
LAFC (11-9-7, 40 points) have been outscored 7-2 during a three-game losing streak but are still tied for third place in the Western Conference. LAFC dropped a 2-0 road decision against the Portland Timbers last Saturday.
"What I shared with the guys after the game is basically, it is what it is," LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. "The only way out of this is to put our head down, and to work hard, and to review our mistakes, and to try to improve. And I saw a group who's willing to do that and to take that challenge on."
Cherundolo is hoping the boisterous intensity that comes with the El Trafico matchup will help the team escape its recent malaise.
"For any derby game around the world, both teams find a way to make it very competitive and close," Cherundolo said. "That's no matter what is going on outside of each world in the respective seasons or different competitions. I'm 100 percent sure both teams will show up to play and there will be a good fight as always."
Galaxy coach Craig Vanney has similar thoughts about the matchup.
"A lot of time in these games it's about energy, it's about emotion, it's about winning the duels, it's about being first to second balls," Vanney said. "We know what they live for and what they look for. ... I think a lot of this is about who executes on the day."
Boyd and midfielder Riqui Puig lead the Galaxy in goals this season with six apiece. Puig scored the game winner in the 73rd minute of the Rose Bowl matchup with LAFC.
Denis Bouanga leads LAFC with 12 goals, and fellow forward Carlos Vela has nine.
—Field Level Media