Galaxy, LAFC renew rivalry as MLS restarts Aug. 22

The Galaxy and LAFC will restart the regular season with a second El Trafico meeting Aug. 22 at Banc of California Stadium, with a third game set for Sept. 6, as Major League Soccer officially announced plans Saturday to continue the regular season in home markets.

The games will be played without fans.

The full plan calls for teams to play 18 regular-season games, with the first phase beginning in two weeks. During the first phase, each team will play six games before Sept. 14.

The challenge facing each team is still the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the season to be shut down March 12.

All clubs are to continue regular testing for COVID-19, with players, technical staff and essential club staff required to be tested every other day, including the day before each match.

After hosting the Galaxy, LAFC will travel to Real Salt Lake (Aug. 26) and Seattle (Aug. 30). The club will next host San Jose (Sept. 2) before the Sept. 6 trip to the Galaxy. LAFC will wrap the initial phase Sept. 13 at home against Portland.

“We’re excited to still have an opportunity to continue the season,” LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony Kaye told “Obviously, this situation will be different than the bubble (in Florida for MLS is Back Tournament), which had some success dealing with the virus.”

LAFC defeated the Galaxy 6-2 at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 18.

After the Aug. 22 meeting with LAFC, the Galaxy will host Seattle (Aug. 26) and San Jose (Aug. 29) after its opener with LAFC. The Galaxy will visit Portland (Sept. 2), before the second LAFC meeting (Sept. 6) and conclude at San Jose (Sept. 13).

After the March 12 stoppage, the 2020 season was restarted with the MLS is Back Tournament, with all 26 teams traveling to Florida.

After the initial arrivals and multiple positive tests by FC Dallas and Nashville SC that led to both teams being withdrawn, the tournament has been a success in regards to testing.

With the tournament final between Portland and host Orlando City set for Tuesday, the tournament has had 13 consecutive rounds of testing with no new positives.

The United Soccer League had its restart in home markets, with some teams allowing fans. The result so far has been troubling, with 11 games postponed due to positive cases. Locally, the Galaxy’s USL team had 11 players test positive, forcing a postponement for Friday’s game with Orange County SC.

Under the new plan, MLS will try to limit a team’s time in a respective road city, calling for teams to take chartered flights or buses, arriving and departing the host market after the match.

It will be a challenge, MLS commissioner Don Garber acknowledged during a media conference video call with reporters,Saturday, but he said the league is determined to go forward.

“Quitting is never an option,” he said. “I never believed – and I know our owners and staffs never believed – in quitting when we’re ahead and we’ve not been ahead a whole lot. We’ve accepted the fact that we’re going to have challenges.”

As of now, there are a few teams planning to allow fans into stadiums. LAFC and the Galaxy do not have plans to allow any fans in.

The remainder of the league schedule will be released in early September.

“We believe our players and our staff are focused on adhering to our protocols, and if we’re able to do that, we ought to be able to get our games in,” Garber said. “If we can’t do that in a way that’s safe and one that’s ensuring the health of our players, then we’ll have to address it. And if it doesn’t work, then we won’t move forward.”

The final day of the regular season is set for Nov. 8, with the expanded MLS Cup playoffs starting Nov. 20 with MLS Cup set for Dec. 12.

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