LAFC Prepare for MLS is Back Season Restart
Host Galaxy at Banc of California Stadium in First Match
August 13, 2020
Get ready for El Trafico 8! LAFC and rival LA Galaxy will battle for the second time this season at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 22 at the Banc of California Stadium. It will be the first match for both teams as Major League Soccer resumes the 2020 season with reserved confidence. In a phased approach, MLS announced the first six of 18 additional regular season games scheduled for each team before playoffs begin.
LAFC got knocked out in the Quarterfinals of the very successful MLS is Back Tournament the league put on near Orlando, Florida in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic. While other professional leagues in the U.S. playing outside of a "bubble" are struggling to play or even shutting down as in the case of the Pac-12 and Big Ten, Major League Soccer put on a clinic in how to manage and produce through a crisis.
"After the challenges of the beginning we had almost 35,000 tests and we've only had two positives," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber during the ESPN's halftime interview in the Championship Final between the Portland Timbers and Orlando City SC. "It's a proud moment for all of us. I'm proud of our players and the seriousness they took to the protocols."
Western Conference rival Portland Timbers captured the MLS is Back Championship on Tuesday, August 11, with a very deserved 2-1 victory over host Orlando City SC. A veteran Timber squad took a 1-0 lead on Larrys Mabiala's goal in the 27th minute before Orlando's Mauricio Pereyra equalized by half time. Portland midfielder Dario Zuparic put away the winner off of two quick assists in the 66th minute.
Though Orlando controlled the ball for 63 percent of the match, their inexperience showed while shooting only one shot on goal in 14 shot attempts. They squandered away time late with wasteful antics and resigned play. LAFC faced both clubs in the tournament. They had a 2-1 lead on Portland in the opening Group play but were tied in the 81st minute. They were eliminated in a shootout to Orlando in the Quarterfinals after giving up the tying score in 90th minute.
However, LAFC forward Diego Rossi won the Golden Boot award for finishing with a total of seven goals. Toronto FC's Ayo Akinola finished second with five goals while LAFC's Bradley Wright-Phillips, Portland's Jeremy Ebobisse and Gyasi Zardes from Columbus Crew finished with four goals each. The LAFC Academy will receive $10,000 for Rossi's effort.
He also leads the league in the 2020 MLS Golden Boot race with six regular season goals as the league returns to action beginning with a home-and-home series between FC Dallas and Nashville SC. Both teams need to make up three games each as they were sent home before the tournament started due to multiple positive virus tests. The other 24 MLS clubs played 51 matches in 35 days with only two positive tests total.
Garber was pleased with the tournament's ability to showcase the league that also presented a sane solution in dealing with the virus: "I'm really proud of the relationship that we have with Disney. They did a great job helping to manage and to put this whole tournament today."
"We've learned a lot in this bubble. We've gone through a deep understanding with our infectious disease doctors and all of our other advisors to understand what we need to do. Test regularly. We now know that we're going to be chartering our players. We have protocols in place when we get back into our markets."
"So, I'm confident that we have a good plan in place and we just got to get started. We've got to get back and we've got to see if it can work. If it does, we'll continue to go through. And if it doesn't, then we'll have to address it."
LAFC has six challenging regular season matches scheduled for the next month against Western Conference rivals. By early September, MLS plans to release the balance of the 18-game schedule to complete the season. After hosting the Galaxy on August 22, LAFC travels to play Real Salt Lake on August 26 and then flies to the defending MLS Champion Seattle Sounders FC on August 30.
The team entertains the San Jose Earthquakes on September 2 before jumping on the freeway for a rematch with the Galaxy in El Trafico 9. Both teams have met seven times in the past three years with each having two wins, two losses and three ties in the all-time series. LAFC trounced the Galaxy, 6-2, in tournament Group play. Champion Portland visits the Banc of California Stadium on September 13.
Garber also alluded to future opportunities for the league: "Now we're taking a step back and think: what could this provide for us from an opportunity perspective? Are there ways we could utilize some of the great technology that we used in the MLS is Back Tournament."
"Our teams have always been aggressive. They've always had a future forward way of looking at the sport, looking at the league. And I think now's a good time for us to do that."