Campeones Cup Recap: LAFC roll in El Tráfico, Tigres fall to Atlas


2022 MLS Cup Champions Los Angeles Football Club were back in action this weekend in one of the biggest domestic matches of the season. El Tráfico, as their rivalry with LA Galaxy is called, is never short of excitement, even with the teams facing off for what would be the fourth time this season, including a clash in the US Open Cup. 

That again proved to be the case on Saturday night as well, as the hosts leveled the season series at two wins apiece, winning 4-2 thanks to a brace from Dénis Bouanga, whose 14 goals on the season leads Major League Soccer. Given the two teams’ respective places in the Western Conference table, and the fact that Galaxy were missing several key players, one would have hardly expected the match to be a closely-fought affair. 

Dénis Bouanga scored a fine header midway through the first half, hammering home Diego Palacios’ cross, but the Galaxy responded just a minute later as summer arrival Billy Sharp, making his first start, leveled the match. LAFC retook the lead thanks to a fine low shot by Ryan Hollingshead, but after the break, veteran defender Maya Yoshida again tied the match up. 

Coach Steve Cherundolo made some changes in bringing on Timothy Tillman and Mario González, and both proved to be decisive. After Dénis Bouanga punished some sloppy play at the back, the two substitutes combined to finish off a counterattack in style with Tillman scoring his first goal in MLS since March. 

Having snapped a three-match losing streak, LAFC are now in second place in the table with six matches to play ahead of Wednesday’s massive trip to face leaders St. Louis CITY SC. 

Club Tigres, meanwhile, were also in action this weekend, traveling to Guadalajara to face Atlas FC. Tigres came into the match in fine form, having won three of four in the league, but the hosts scored two goals in the first half and held on for a 2-0 win. Tigres remain in the top for in the 2023 Apertura table, but will need to get back to winning ways as they host CF Monterrey in their own derby on Saturday evening.