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Galaxy and LAFC will be on collision course if they win at U.S. Open Cup

CARSON, CALIF. - AUG. 24, 2018. LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta battles for control of the ball agai
LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta, left, battles for control of the ball against Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic during an August 2018 match.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It’s hard to believe anyone in Southern California really wants more traffic, but that’s exactly what we could get if the Galaxy and LAFC win their round-of-16 games in the U.S. Open Cup this week.

The Galaxy play the Timbers in Portland on Wednesday night, and LAFC will host the San Jose Earthquakes on Thursday. If both teams win they would advance to an Open Cup quarterfinals version of El Trafico, the name given to the MLS rivalry between the two neighbors, on July 9 at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC, which lost four players to their respective national teams for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, used the bulk of its remaining first-team players in last week’s 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake, getting goals from Carlos Vela, Lee Nguyen and Adama Diomande. Bob Bradley’s team made it as far as the semifinals last season before losing to the Dynamo in Houston in penalty kicks.

The Galaxy, missing six players to international duty, did not play Zlatan Ibrahimovic in its 3-0 win over the fourth-division Orange County Football Club last week, getting two goals from Efrain Alvarez and another from second-half substitute Emil Cuello. Ibrahimovic will not play in Portland on Wednesday either, but he but is expected back in the fold when the team returns to MLS play Saturday at Cincinnati.

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“We need to balance the importance of every game, even if we lose six players to national teams or injuries,” coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “We need to do the best thing for the Galaxy and for the team and try to win.

“But you need to think about the reality of the moment. We’ve lost six players to national teams and injuries. Then less than three days after the game in Portland we play in Cincinnati. It’s a tough trip … very hard, very far. We have to be smart.”

Portland advanced to the matchup with the Galaxy with a fourth-round win over the Seattle Sounders of MLS. San Jose defeated USL’s Sacramento Republic to reach its round-of-16 game with LAFC.

The U.S. Open Cup, being held for the 106th time, is the oldest ongoing competition in U.S. Soccer.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11


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