Good. Great. Better. Best. It’s human to draw comparisons, to search for our counterparts, our rivals, our balancing side of the equation. The same goes for teams. Fans flock to every edition of the new LA Galaxy – LAFC derby. Rivalries are morsels of goodness we can delight ourselves with but without a history of back and forth, of give and take, it becomes meaningless. Yet, out of all the matches both sides have played this season, do they truly deserve to be called “the best” rivalry in MLS? As unpopular as this will sound, Galaxy’s rivals immediately to the north have a more legitimate and historical relevancy.
That was not Zlatan Ibrahimović’s first MLS hat trick. I will argue that he had a better game last year against Orlando City SC where he not only tallied a 3-goal blitz of his own, he added an assist and had a pass completion rate nearing 80%. Is he better than his supposed rival in South LA, the goal-leader of the league, Carlos Vela? I’m not insane enough to say no or yes. Vela is now the fastest to reach 21 goals in MLS history (why do people keep saying 20 when they could say 21 and still be correct?). Unfortunately, that means little without a team to back that offensive prowess (and luck) up with a consistent backline.
What we can definitively say tonight is that LA Galaxy were the better team and that their record against the other LA team speaks for itself. Is the rivalry one of the best in the league? Perhaps only because the fans will it to be, and that adds a lot of substance to something that is still too shallow. Those very fans were the ones who deserved more tonight. What happens when Zlatan leaves? Talking about Ferraris is just a bit of storytelling magic, but in my opinion LAFC are not the equal and opposite side of LA Galaxy’s equation yet.