Los Angeles Football Club’s eight-game unbeaten streak across all competitions was snapped in dramatic fashion on Sunday, as they fully capitulated to Minnesota United in a 5-1 loss at TCF Bank Stadium.
The problems seemed to begin with the ample rotations to LAFC’s lineup, in itself not a shocking thing, but Bob Bradley opted to sub out three-quarters of the defense that played in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup win over Portland Timbers, and Carlos Vela was totally rested for this game. Marco Ureña was rewarded for his goal on Wednesday with another start, also not necessarily a surprise, with Adama Diomande starting the game on the bench and coming on at halftime.
The defense appeared to be trying out some new things, again, not a surprise, as this is the kind of game where perhaps you try a new wrinkle. To counter Minnesota’s speed, they tried to play offside traps, but could not get the timing right, and were slashed time and again. On top of that, they worked on zonal marking on corner kicks, which on one play proved very costly indeed.
The game was scoreless until the 25th minute. A moment earlier, Minnesota midfielder Ibson had narrowly missed a pretty open net, but on another run upfield past LAFC’s defense and a cut back pass from Darwin Quintero, Rasmus Schuller scored his first career MLS goal.
All was not lost immediately, as LAFC equalized a minute later, with Benny Feilhaber unleashing a shot that was blocked, before eventually getting the ball again and taking his time before stroking it in the net.
But that was the extent of LAFC’s optimism, as the Loons retook the lead just before halftime and never relinquished it. Christian Ramirez scored on the aforementioned corner kick play, in which LAFC partially cleared the ball, only for Minnesota to win a header to put it back in the mixer, the ball to roll through about six LAFC players, and around to Ramirez, who beat a helpless Tyler Miller.
A minute later, Quintero got on the board, as he hit the kind of goal that LAFC are pretty vulnerable at, a run through the defense around the corner, followed by a low angled shot. So LAFC entered the break down 3-1.
It got worse. Miguel Ibarra, who had a lively game, got on the scoreboard in the 56th minute, and then Ramirez scored his second of the game two minutes later on a tap-in at the far post, and the party was on for Minnesota.
It was a frustrating game in all aspects for LAFC. Aside from Feilhaber’s early goal, LAFC barely got a good look the rest of the game in attack, and their attacking rhythm was all out of whack. The defense had a terrible game, and honestly Minnesota might have scored another two or three goals if they had been more clinical.
On one hand, if there was a game where LAFC could afford to be flat, this is it — a road game in the middle of the regular season. You don’t want to see the team have an off day, but it happens, and personally, I’d rather see a loss of any kind in this game than a loss on Wednesday in the Open Cup.
But the flipside is that LAFC’s next game is on Thursday against the LA Galaxy. Laying an egg is not the best way to prepare for the rivalry clash, so hopefully LAFC can turn the page on this poor performance quickly and bounce back in a big way in El Trafico.
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