LA Galaxy, LAFC battle for first at packed Rose Bowl Trafico

A final-like atmosphere is expected for the Fourth of July top-of-the-table Trafico between the LA Galaxy and LAFC at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

One manager seemed thrilled about it ahead of the match, the other, not as much.

Just under 70,000 tickets have already been sold for Thursday’s game, which could even surpass the MLS single-game attendance record of 82,110 set in last year’s edition of the L.A. derby at the Rose Bowl by gametime.

“Whenever you play a game inside of the Rose Bowl, or a stadium like the Rose Bowl, it feels like it has an added magnitude to it,” said LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney. “The crowd will be bigger, the crowd will be more involved.

“With both teams being at the top then it really feels like there’s kind of a special occasion to try to be the sole team at the top of the West at the end of the night. A lot of motivation inside of this game.”

Although the crosstown rivals are currently level with 40 points, LAFC is technically in first thanks to a superior goal differential. With hosting duty for the game and a place at the top of the table on the line, the Galaxy will seek to recreate the same performance that led to a 2-1 win over LAFC last year on July 4.

“It’s a special venue. I mean, the Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl,” Vanney added. “It’s one of the greatest stadiums in the world. You know, the field is immaculate, the guys have a great memory of being there last year with the crowd and the performance.”

LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, though, said he was confused as to why the Galaxy were able to play the match at the iconic venue as opposed to their usual home at the 27,000 seat Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

“I don’t understand why it’s there. I think this will be the last time, next year we’ll have 15 teams in our league [conference], so I don’t think there’s that odd game that you need to create because of the odd number of opponents,” Cherundolo said. “So I think it will be the last time, but why not enjoy it? Hopefully we get a good crowd and come out on top.”

LAFC’s coach dismissed the notion that the game had more value due to being held at the Rose Bowl, saying that “it gives it more fans, but I’m not sure it makes it more special. He added that for his money, the Trafico is still the biggest rivalry in MLS.

“For me it is, yeah, hands down,” said Cherundolo. “The history of the fans too, both being from L.A., well one from L.A., the other from a little outside, but L.A. is pretty big. So I think we can say that and I think that makes it very interesting. For me, yes it’s the biggest rivalry.”

LAFC goalkeeper and former French international Hugo Lloris had a slightly different take than his coach, saying that the match had more weight due to being played at the historic venue.

“The fact that we are going to play in the Rose Bowl, it makes the game even, I don’t know, it makes it like a final,” said Lloris. “It’s really interesting to play that type of game because it gives you an indication [of] where you are as a team.”

Earlier in the season, LAFC beat the Galaxy 2-1 at BMO Stadium in the teams’ first of three meetings in 2024. On Sept. 14, the Galaxy will host LAFC in their third meeting.