On the soccer field, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) have one of the most intense rivalries in Major League Soccer (MLS). LAFC and their fanbase bleed black and gold while the Galaxy and their supporters bleed blue, white and gold. Both teams play with intensity and are supported by passionate fan bases that stand, cheer and scream for the full 90 minutes of each game.
Approximately 12 miles separate the opposing stadiums as both try to stake their claim as the better Los Angeles team. While their rivalry and play is fierce on the field, both teams have remained very active and engaged off the field by finding their own ways to aid their fans and the surrounding communities in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Black and Gold Community Relief Fund, which was launched in early May, LAFC has been able to reach out to residents who have been hit hard by the pandemic. The team and the LAFC Sports Foundation partnered with Feeding the Frontlines to provide meals for frontline hospital staff at five different hospitals throughout Los Angeles County, including three in downtown Los Angeles, one in West L.A., and one facility in Boyle Heights.
LAFC completed blood drives in partnership with American Red Cross, hosting each blood drive at the Banc of California Stadium in order to help address the critical need for blood during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Black and Gold franchise revealed the LAFC Food Delivery Service program and partnered with Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas, and other entities to formulate the Farm Box Program to feed thousands of families. Events were held at the Banc of California Stadium where the LAFC helped distribute boxes of fresh produce to pre-selected local families that have been affected hard. The boxes included fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, eggs, and oat milk from Califia Farms.
LAFC and CLEAR, the club’s official safety partner, teamed up to provide co-branded face masks and hand sanitizer packets to supporters, staff and guests that will be entering the Banc of California Stadium. LAFC became the first professional sports team to provide free disposable masks in a stadium-wide setting.
Fans who attend an LAFC match in the future will receive a “fan pack” that contains two hand sanitizer packets and one mask. CLEAR also sent out an additional 100,000 masks to LAFC season ticket members back in August.
“We are proud to partner with CLEAR to provide safe, stylish, black & gold face masks and care kits to fans, supporters and staff at Banc of California Stadium,” LAFC EVP/Chief Business Officer Larry Freedman said in a released statement. “The safety, security and comfort of our guests is our top priority. We look forward to creating a team spirit in our colors when fans safely gather together again in the heart of Los Angeles.”
The Galaxy found their own ways to contribute aid to their fans during the pandemic. During the month of May, the Galaxy partnered with two food trucks to provide meals to the Carson community as well as LA Surge Hospital workers that were on the front lines battling the pandemic.
Chancho’s Tacos and Roy Choi’s Kogi Tacos (Kogi BBQ Taco Truck & Catering) normally serve fans in attendance at the Galaxy and Galaxy II matches at Dignity Health Sports Park, but due to fans not being allowed at any matches during the nationwide pandemic, they resorted to other methods to continue providing their food to customers.
Carson residents were able to drive to Dignity Health Sports Park where Roy Choi’s Kogis Tacos provided meals ready for pickup in a drive-thru setting. The Galaxy and Chancho’s Tacos traveled to Los Angeles Surge Hospital where free meals were provided to hospital workers that were battling the pandemic on the frontlines.
In June, the Galaxy collaborated with the all-volunteer, Watts-based organization East Side Riders Bike Club to provide taco meals to over 1,000 members of the local community at the Councilman Office – Watts District Office in Los Angeles.
The team and the Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation have worked with A Place Called Home, a non-profit organization based in the city of Los Angeles, to provide and deliver food to those in need in the surrounding neighborhoods near the organization’s headquarters. They also teamed up last month and held a backpack drive to benefit the organization.
The Galaxy foundation donated brand new backpacks filled with essential products for families and school supplies for children. Some of the items included were notebooks, markers, crayons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper towels, soap, and other cleaning supplies.
“Giving back to the community in a time that we all need; everybody just coming together; it’s an honor for me and my family to do it,” said Marie Sokolik, a member of the Galaxians supporter group. “This is a little bit of some normalcy to give back to the community because that’s what the Galaxy family is about. To be able to see some of the Galaxy people reconnect [with the community], that’s huge.”
Los Angeles County was one of the areas hit the hardest at the outbreak of the nationwide pandemic. LAFC and the Galaxy have come together to provide relief to the people that have always supported them, proving that there are some things that are bigger than the sport of soccer.
Both teams aim to give back to the community in any way possible and have done so through the various events and programs during COVID-19. On the field, LAFC and the Galaxy have faced each other three times in 2020. The Galaxy have won two of the three meetings, shutting out LAFC on the road 2-0 and at home 3-0.
LAFC came away with a dominant 6-2 victory in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando back in July. The next chapter of El Trafico is set to take place at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 25 with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Jeremy is an intern at News4usonline currently working on his BA in communications at CSUDH. He grew up in the southeast LA neighborhood of Huntington Park and enjoys watching soccer, football, basketball and baseball.