The 2023 Major League Soccer (MLS) season kicks off today (February 25) with a dozen matches, which was supposed to include the official season opener between the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC. But it was officially announced that the opener game would be postponed for July 4.
LA Galaxy’s official Twitter account announced the news, writing: “LA Galaxy vs. LAFC has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 4 at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Tickets originally purchased for the Feb. 25 original match date will be honored for the rescheduled match date on July 4.” A press statement confirms that the change is due to the weather. “Due to safety considerations resulting from inclement weather and forecasted thunderstorms in the Los Angeles area,” reads the statement.
Fans were looking forward to this match given its significance. Since 2018, the inner-city rivalry known as El Tráfico has been played 13 times during the regular season, with the Galaxy winning six matches, LAFC winning two, and five draws. The teams have also faced each other twice in the playoffs, with both wins going to LAFC; once in the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020 (LAFC won); and earlier last year during the U.S. Open Cup (Galaxy won). In all, the Galaxy leads the series 7-5-5.
The 18th matchup between the teams will still take place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Galaxy played their home games at the Rose Bowl between 1996 and 2002 before moving to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
If LAFC wins the match, they will tie FC Dallas’ MLS record for most consecutive season-opening games with six. LAFC will have a good chance to win since the Galaxy announced on Thursday (February 23) that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has a hamstring injury and will not play in the opener.
Likely to step up in his place is Chicharito’s Serbian teammate Dejan Joveljic. “It’s the ‘next-man-up’ mentality,” said Galaxy fullback/wingback Raheem Edwards. “Dejan Joveljic was excellent last year. So, for him to possibly get the start, just filling the shoes of Chicharito is something that we as a team have full confidence in him.”
According to the preseason Power Rankings at MLS.com, out of the 29 teams in the league, LAFC ranks No. 2, and the Galaxy ranks No. 8.
Based on a prediction model at The Analyst, as of now, LAFC is given a 37.3% chance of winning, followed by the Galaxy’s 35.2% and a draw at 27.5%. No matter how the match ends, it will likely be an exciting classic based on the history between the football clubs. Let’s see if these predications change as the season progresses.
MLS fans can still watch all the other Matchday 1 games happening on February 25 as of 4:30 PM (EST). They will air free on the MLS Season Pass app on Apple TV.