Los Angeles FC head coach Steve Cherundolo is anticipating an "exciting" battle against derby rivals LA Galaxy on Thursday.

The two teams are locked in at the top of the Western Conference, both on 40 points, though LAFC have the slight advantage of a game in hand.

Cherundolo's side are unbeaten in nine MLS matches, winning eight of those, and have won their last two outings by an aggregate score of 9-2.

Asked how LAFC would cope with the threat the Galaxy pose, Cherundolo praised the improvement of their neighbours.

"It's our rivals. They're a team that scores a lot of goals," Cherundolo said.

"They have weapons, and they've added to the transitions and got some defensive stability, so they're really a complete team this year.

"They're top of the table with us, so they're a team that has found a way to get results while playing well, so it should be an exciting match."

Meanwhile, the Galaxy are on a four-match winning run of their own and have only lost one of their last 11 matches in MLS.

Head coach Greg Vanney is pleased with his side's defensive stability, and was quick to pick out goalkeeper, John McCarthy.

"His maturity back there and his capacity to come up because he did come up with a couple big saves [against San Jose], but his capacity to come up with a save when we need it has been really strong for us," Vanney said.

"You can't say too much about that, especially when you're on the road. The opposition is going to get something. There's going to be a moment here or there and when there has been, John has been there. Three shutouts is big for us."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LA Galaxy – John McCarthy

The Galaxy have won four straight matches, keeping clean sheets in each of the last three.

It marks the first time LA has posted three straight shutout wins in all competitions since a four-match run in 2016, and McCarthy will be keen to equal that record in the derby.

LAFC – Mateusz Boguesz

Mateusz Bogusz has contributed to three goals in each of his last two matches (two goals and one assist versus San Jose Earthquakes on June 21 and a hat-trick against Colorado Rapids on Saturday).

The Pole is one of five players to do so this year after no more than three players had done so in any previous MLS season.

MATCH PREDICTION: LOS ANGELES FC WIN

Los Angeles FC have won five of their last six MLS matches against the Galaxy (L1, incl. playoffs), including a 2-1 victory on April 6. The Galaxy lost only three of the first 14 editions of El Trafico from LAFC's debut in MLS in 2018 through April 2022.

LAFC have won 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions (D1), including a 3-0 win over Colorado on Saturday. They are the first MLS team since Sporting Kansas City in 2011-12 to win 10 times in the span of 11 matches in all competitions.

Meanwhile, this will be the Galaxy's 28th home match on the Fourth of July in 29 MLS seasons, only not doing so in 2020 (no game). LA have scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 Independence Day games dating back to 2013, only failing to do so in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City in 2021.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

LA Galaxy – 34%

Draw – 25.8%

LAFC – 40.2%