Now that Los Angeles Football Club has secured the Supporters’ Shield, the next season, if you will, begins.
But who would LAFC rather play? Who might be a tougher opponent? That might be a tougher question to answer than you think.
Team analysis: Minnesota United made the playoffs in their 3rd year of existence. They had an overall increase of talent this year, with players like Jan Gregus, Ike Opara, Vito Mannone and Ozzie Alonso coming in and performing well.
Specifically, where Minnesota United improved was defense. Minnesota was one of the worst defensive teams in the league its first two years.
They were much improved this year, especially with the addition of Opara, who beat out Walker Zimmerman for MLS Defender of the Year.
Minnesota held LAFC to one goal in their two meetings this season, though the first game was without Carlos Vela.
Minnesota like to sit deep and counter, and a talented team that can counter is the type of team that gives LAFC the most trouble.
One area that LAFC has over Minnesota United is experience. This is Minnesota’s first year in the MLS playoffs, and despite having MLS veterans like Alonso and Opara, they are a fairly young team.
LAFC have played in the playoffs, and went the whole year with expectations, and succeeded by winning the Supporters’ Shield.
Emotional analysis: There’s not much of a rivalry between Minnesota United and LAFC. Until this year the teams were on opposite trajectories, though LAFC did take a beating in last season’s 5-1 loss in Minnesota. Combined with another loss and a draw this season, LAFC will surely want to beat Minnesota, but it’s not a matchup that is going to get the fans excited and pumped up, at least not more so than any other playoff game.
Team Analysis: Despite their performances against LAFC this season, the Galaxy were an up and down team, and arguably underperformed this season. Not enough to miss the playoffs like last season, but enough to not be consistent through the regular season.
With Cristian Pavon on the team you can’t exactly say the Galaxy are a one-man team, but their philosophy seems to be, feed the ball to Zlatan as often as they can.
And it’s not a terrible strategy, as Zlatan did score 30 goals this season, and the next highest goal scorer on the team was Uriel Antuna with 5 goals.
And since the Galaxy gave up a ton of goals on the other end, they have to hope that Zlatan can pump in a few goals before their defense ultimately gets breached.
It’s a big if, but if LAFC can corral Zlatan, or at least slow him down, they should be able to punish the Galaxy’s weak defense.
Emotional Analysis: Unfortunately, LAFC have yet to slow Zlatan down, as he has frequently killed them, scoring in every matchup but one against the Black-and-Gold.
This is the opposite of Minnesota United, this is the matchup all the neutrals want, and the matchup LAFC fans would potentially dread.
The fact that LAFC has not beaten the Galaxy yet is a real thing in the fans’ heads and their hearts. The lead up to a match against the Galaxy would be full of dread and nervousness, as another potential defeat to the Galaxy would be devastating.
And yet, to have the first win for LAFC over the Galaxy in the playoffs would be a tremendous boost for the team and the fans alike.
There are plenty of people who would go into the match feeling optimistic, and they should, given how LAFC have performed this year and the talent on the team.
If a matchup against Minnesota United would be a 3 or 4 on the emotional scale, a match against the Galaxy would unquestionably be a 10.
So who would you rather see LAFC play? Let us know.
Who would you prefer LAFC play in their first playoff game this season?
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