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3 things to watch for as LA Galaxy do El Trafico in the bubble

It’s going to be different, but maybe a familiar outcome?

MLS: Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

El Trafico! The excitement! The anticipation! The...doing it in the Orlando bubble?

Yes, it’s true, no fans on hand to watch, no atmosphere, but I suppose no brawls or destruction of property, either. We must come to terms with it, this is the normal for now.

To gear up for the game, let’s go over three things to watch for as the LA Galaxy face LAFC Saturday night.

Can Gonzalez pull it together?

Giancarlo Gonzalez has struggled since joining the Galaxy last year. Meant to be the anchor of the defense, the Costa Rican has been the defender most liable to make a terminal mistake, and that was true in Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers. Gonzalez was beat twice in a row and the Timbers scored twice (although Rolf Feltscher didn’t cover himself in glory on one of the goals, either).

I think it’s clear Gonzalez’s place in the lineup isn’t in doubt, so the hope now is that he’ll shore it up and become the steady leader of the backline. He has the experience and pedigree, including in MLS previously to great success with the Columbus Crew, but he’s looked like a shadow of that player for the Galaxy. If he can pull it together, the Galaxy defense will improve considerably and they’ll have to be at their best against a potent LAFC attack that scored three goals even without Carlos Vela.

Has the tide turned for the attack?

In the final 25 minutes or so in Monday’s game, the Galaxy attack finally found a rhythm. Chicharito scored, Gordon Wild came off the bench and set up that goal. Cristian Pavon hit an incredible curling cross that Wild scored on, only for a close offside to waive that off. There was reason for optimism and why the Galaxy weren’t as down in the mouth coming out of the loss as they otherwise would have been.

Now, they need to take that segment of the match and turn it into a productive 90-minute shift in attack against LAFC. Can they do it? They certainly have the potential if they can actually link up with each other, but we’ve only seen it for about 25 minutes this season. In contrast to the Portland match, an early goal against LAFC would do wonders for LA’s confidence for the rest of the match.

Will Galaxy maintain top dog status?

The last game between the teams certainly didn’t go LA’s way, but they haven’t lost to LAFC yet in regular-season play and there is definitely a mental edge firmly in the Galaxy camp. Admittedly, it will be interesting to see how LA does without the force of nature of Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring at will against LAFC, but a win over the noisy neighbors would be more than just a win for the Galaxy — it could truly be a turning point in their season.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.