While waiting for Lionel Messi, MLS breaks the attendance record for one game

(CNN) — Just weeks before Argentine star Lionel Messi arrived to support the American soccer league, MLS broke a new attendance record after 82,110 fans showed up to watch the Los Angeles Classic between LA Galaxy and LAFC.

Nicknamed “El Tráfico”—a nod to the famous El Clásico rivalry between Spanish soccer clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid and the fact that the two Los Angeles teams are separated by nearly 20 kilometers of congested highway—the game will have become one of fiercest rivalry in MLS.

The derby shattered the previous MLS record, set in 2022. In Charlotte FC’s first ever match, 74,479 spectators flocked to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to watch their team take on the Galaxy.

This Tuesday, fans attending the Rose Bowl witnessed a very close game in which the LA Galaxy won 2-1 thanks to a goal by former Barcelona player Riqui Puig.

Riqui Puig scored the winning goal in front of a record number of fans. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Tyler Boyd opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the first half with a sensational spin past LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy.

The visitors rejoined the game early in the second half thanks to an Ilie Sánchez header. However, the equality didn’t last long, and Galaxy quickly regained the lead.

The tables were turned on the winner when Puig, who had set up Boyd for his first goal, reached a first scorer’s cross past McCarthy.

“I love the pressure, I love playing these matches, I love playing derbies against big teams. Honestly, I’m very happy,” said Puig after the match, according to the mls.

“I think every player plays football to play these matches, these stadiums, to have 82,000 people watching you.

“I don’t play for money, I play for these experiences,” added the 23-year-old.

LAFC is currently third in the Western Conference, three points behind leaders St. Louis City SC, while LA Galaxy is 13th in its quest to reach the playoffs.

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