In this sport, things tend not to live up to the hype. Cup finals are often cagey, sloppy affairs between two teams trying not to lose. Prodigies fall just as rapidly as they rise as the weight of expectation tends to be too much. Transfers falter and stars leave on unceremonious terms, while coaches come and go faster than many can explain.
But, on occasion, there are those times that expectations are met. There are games or goals or players that give us something worthy of remembering. There are moments that don't just live up to the hype but actually exceed it. MLS has found that in El Trafico, a rivalry that began with a humorous name and has rapidly become something much, much better. It has become the best thing MLS has to offer, and it lived up to that monicker once again on Sunday night.
Sunday's clash at Banc of California Stadium had everything, just like pretty much every iteration of a rivalry that isn't even two years old yet. It had big goals from big stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela. It had tension that felt palpable, and it had quality on display from all 22 players on the pitch. Sunday's match felt like it meant something and, in a league where the regular season often feels like a slog, that's special.
It took less than two minutes for Ibrahimovic to kickstart a game that will go down as yet another instant classic by scoring a goal that announced the latest iteration of El Trafico as another one to remember. The Swedish star made his debut in this very rivalry last season and it seems that he's saved his best MLS performances for each version since. When the lights are brightest, Ibrahimovic steps up and, while the pressures of Los Angeles may not match Milan, Barcelona or Manchester, there's little doubt that Ibrahimovic has embraced his own brand of Hollywood flair.