LAFC prevails over El Tráfico rival Galaxy in front of 70,000 fans at Rose Bowl

For seven seasons, the Galaxy and LAFC have shared Southern California. But until Thursday they had never played each other while sharing the top spot in the Western Conference standings.

They didn’t finish the night that way, with first-half goals from Kei Kamara and Denis Bouanga lifting LAFC to a 2-1 victory before a crowd of 70,076 at the Rose Bowl. Gabriel Pec scored for the Galaxy early in the second half.

The win, LAFC’s third in as many games, extended the team’s franchise-record unbeaten streak to 10 matches, gave it a three-point cushion atop the conference table and pushed it closer to Inter Miami in the Supporters’ Shield race.

Almost as important, it gave LAFC (13-4-4) three straight wins over the Galaxy, matching the longest winning streak in the bitter crosstown rivalry known as El Tráfico.

For the Galaxy (11-4-7), the loss, their second in 12 games, ended a four-match winning streak, the team’s longest since 2020. But it didn’t end their season’s work with LAFC. The teams are guaranteed to meet again in September and, given the way both are playing, a playoff rematch is possible this fall.

The neighbors, whose home stadiums are just 11 miles apart, moved their Fourth of July game to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year and were rewarded with the second-largest crowd in MLS this season and the 14th-largest in league history.

LAFC was the better team through much of the first half, outshooting the Galaxy 13-6 and nearly scoring in the 14th minute when midfielder Eduard Atuesta beat keeper John McCarthy from the top of the box, only to see the shot bend off the left post. Minutes later Bouanga got behind the defense on another counterattack, running onto a pass in the box before losing control of the ball and failing to get a shot off.

LAFC finally broke through shortly before halftime. After McCarthy made two tough saves seconds part, first pushing away Mateusz Bogusz’s right-footed shot from the top of the box then lifting Ilie Sánchez’s header over the bar, Kamara beat him with a header on the ensuing corner kick, ending McCarthy’s scoreless streak at 319 minutes.

It was the 147th goal of Kamara’s MLS career, extending his lead over Landon Donovan for second on the all-time scoring list while Bogusz, with an assist on the play, became the first player this season to contribute to a goal in 10 straight games.

A minute later Galaxy defender Julián Aude tripped Atuesta at the top of the box, drawing a penalty that Bouanga converted for his 14th goal of the season. The Galaxy hadn’t allowed two goals in the first half since an April loss in Austin.

Bouanga, the reigning MLS scoring champion, also converted a first-half penalty shot in LAFC’s first win over the Galaxy this season, a game that also ended with a 2-1 scoreline.

But if LAFC dominated the first half, the Galaxy were more dangerous for much of the final 45 minutes.

Pec halved the deficit in the 56th minute, bulling his way through a pair of defenders before pushing in a left-footed shot from close range for his seventh goal of the season. The score also gave him a goal or assist in five straight games.

Joseph Paintsil nearly tied the game a minute later, spinning and launching a right-footed shot from the center of the box, but the ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar. And with LAFC packing the penalty area with as many as seven bodies in the final 10 minutes, the Galaxy would get no closer.

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