Friday, July 19, 2024
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MLS Preview: Minnesota United FC (8-8-5) vs Los Angeles Galaxy (11-4-7)

It’s a tale of two teams this weekend, as Minnesota United travel to Tinseltown to take on the stars of LA Galaxy. While the Loons are coming into this match in the midst of quite a rough patch, Greg Vanney’s men have been flying as of late. It’s going to be a tall order for the visitors to take three points from this one, but every down period comes to an end—you’ve just got to believe.

Minnesota United (8-8-5)

Run of Form: L-L-L-L-L

There’s not much left to say that hasn’t already been said at this point. The Loons need a result sooner rather than later to get themselves back on track, and this weekend’s match would be a fantastic place to start. Bongokuhle Hlongwane is in fine form at the moment, and despite key absences, there has been a lot of heart on display in the last few matches. Unfortunately, heart doesn’t win you games, and the Loons will need to clean it up in the back if they want to avoid a big scoreline against one of the league’s most potent attacks.

LA Galaxy (11-3-7)

Run of Form: W-W-W-W-L

The second-best team in LA (at the moment) is coming into this one at the top of their game. Four wins on the bounce against some of the best teams in the league (RSL, NYCFC) have brought the Galaxy level with LAFC and RSL for first-place in the Western Conference, and they don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Riqui Puig has been out for several games, but Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec have stepped up in his absence, leading the line and showing that this team is not reliant on a single outstanding player. The collective is stronger than the individuals, and it’s a hard group to stop.

Keys to the Match:

Was it Something I Said?

Last night, the midfield pair of Alejandro Bran and Hassani Dotson had a few good moments, particularly in the second half. However, both of those players play more like box-to-box midfielders, leaving the middle of the pitch without any true number six. On more than one occasion, both midfielders ran away from the backline when the defenders could’ve used an outlet to advance the ball down the pitch. When Carlos Harvey and/or Wil Trapp step into the midfield, they take up spaces between the pressing forwards that enable the center backs to release pressure by connecting the back to the front. Whoever starts in the midfield on Sunday needs to make sure they’re not leaving the backline out to dry, and step back to receive a pass rather than running down the pitch and forcing either a long ball or a giveaway in the defensive third.

Everybody Makes Mistakes

Everybody has those days. You know what I’m talkin’ about. In the last few matches, the Loons backline has given up goals from some careless errors, be it a soft back pass or someone letting their mark run free on a set-piece. These lapses in sharpness and judgment are part of the game, and no one is trying to mess up out there. Dwelling on mistakes doesn’t help anyone; in fact, all it really does is make the players that made the mistakes overthink their next touch. Instead of dwelling on the shortcomings and obsessing over what they did wrong, the Loons need to take a page out of Ted Lasso’s coaching philosophy and be like goldfish. Obviously, there are high standards for professional players, but they’re human at the end of the day. Everybody makes mistakes; shake it off and move on.

Party in the USA

In what is quickly becoming a very fun yearly tradition, LA Galaxy will be taking on LAFC in El Trafico later today at the Rose Bowl. While this game won’t change how talented either team is, it has a history of being quite the impactful affair. A poor performance against their bitter rivals could send the Galaxy on a downward spiral as it has in the past. A big win, on the other hand could go one of two ways, making them either unstoppable or overconfident. Really, the result in El Trafico is going to be a huge determining factor of what kind of mentality Vanney and crew will be bringing into Sunday’s match, so watch closely and hope for the best.

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