By Noe Ortega
Making history both as a team and individually, Los Angeles Football Club has no excuse to not win the Major League Soccer Cup.
LAFC are three wins away from becoming the 2019 MLS Cup Champions and the only thing standing in its way, is the team itself.
Having a good season doesn’t guarantee you a championship.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Rams are prime examples.
Both teams had outstanding seasons last season, but both teams ended up losing. Dodgers lost in the World Series and the Rams lost in the Superbowl.
LAFC are no different. They had the most goals in a single season in MLS history, most assists in an MLS season, forward Carlos Vela, was their all-star captain and he won the golden boat for most goals scored in a season.
Vela also made history by scoring the most goals in a regular season with 32 goals, overtaking Atlanta United’s forward Josef Martinez who scored 31 goals last season.
LAFC also won the supporters shield for having the best record in the league with 21 wins, nine draws and five losses.
LAFC has done it all with just two seasons of existence in the MLS, except beat its city rivals the Los Angeles Galaxy.
LAFC may have the better team, better record and MLS all-star captain, but it won’t matter if they cannot get past the LA Galaxy.
The “El Tráfico” or the Los Angeles Derby has been going on for a year and a half, but has been dominated by the LA Galaxy. With five games played, the LA Galaxy have won two and tied three matches. In two of those games, the LAFC had either a two goal lead or a three goal lead, and still managed to lose or draw.
And it’s all because of one man, who has scored eight goals in five games against LAFC.
LA Galaxy Forward Zlatan Ibrahimović has been able to score a hat trick and outrageous goals in crucial moments.
His debut was against LAFC in the Stub Hub Center. LAFC was leading 3-0 in minute 60 and Ibrahimović came off the bench and made a sudden impact by scoring two goals, including a volley from 40 yards outside the penalty box, to help LA Galaxy win the first ever Derby between these two teams.
Ibrahimović has even trash talked Vela after comparing both players’ careers and the trophies that they won.
Vela has been able to score seven goals in the last five appearances against the LA Galaxy, but it’s been Ibrahimovic who has been unstoppable in the Derby.
Whenever Vela and Ibrahimovic play against each other in the MLS, they are guaranteed to be on the scoreboard. But the experience that the LA Galaxy has, overtakes the urge of LAFC to win its first ever derby.
Last seasons 3-2 playoff loss to Real Salt Lake is an example that LAFC should consider coming into this years playoffs. They were at home, they were down a goal, they took back the lead, but ultimately crumbled when Real Salt Lake pushed back and scored two unanswered goals in the second half.
LAFC are still very young when it comes to playing in the playoffs and have to prove that they’re not a team that’ll flop when the pressure is on.
Regardless, LAFC are ranked the number one team in the Western Conference are awaiting an opponent between the winner of the LA Galaxy and Minnesota United. LAFC will have the home advantage regardless of who they face, but if they do play the LA Galaxy again and lose, it’ll be an upset to go out in the first round like last season.