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Not on Top Yet: LAFC 0, Minnesota United 2

LAFC suffers its first home loss of the season in league play.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

On the night that Los Angeles Football Club was supposed to clinch the top spot in the Western Conference, Minnesota United’s Mason Toye stole the show, putting in two early goals just four minutes apart and leading his team to becoming the first to beat LAFC in Los Angeles this season.

Bob Bradley opted to rotate some of his lineup, with the most notable change being Carlos Vela, out injured, left out and newcomer Brian Rodriguez making his first career start. Pablo Sisniega also replaced Tyler Miller in goal.

Minnesota took the lead in the 26th minute when Toye received a through-ball from Jan Gregus. Toye squared up on the right side of the box before tucking a curled shot around the outstretched Sisniega and inside the far post.

Toye came back just four minutes later to score his second. He turned inside just outside the box and immediately ripped a stunner into the upper near corner, not giving Sisniega a chance.

Despite LAFC dominating both possession (76 percent) and shot creation (23 to Minnesota’s 5), the Black & Gold found themselves goalless. Chances were plenty but Los Angeles just seemed to be missing the final connection to cash in on the opportunities.

The struggles in the final third were perhaps a byproduct of seldom-seen faces in the starting lineup. In addition to Rodriguez, Lee Nguyen played right midfield in place of the regular Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Kaye replaced Rodriguez and Mohamed El-Munir replaced Jordan Harvey at the half as LAFC’s first substitutions. Kaye moved into the right midfield position which moved Nguyen to left midfield and Latif Blessing up to the front line where Rodriguez was.

Sisniega had a bad giveaway in the 66th minute and one Minnesota pass later, substitute Kevin Molino took a shot. Luckily, Sisniega was able to stick out a foot to keep LAFC within two goals.

Adrien Perez replaced Tristan Blackmon in the 70th minute as LAFC’s final substitution. Blessing dropped into Blackmon’s former position at right back as Perez went up top.

The ball spent most of the second half along Minnesota’s 18-yard line as LAFC continued to try and find a way to crack United’s five-man back line. By the 86th minute, Los Angeles had retained a 75-25 possession advantage and ballooned the shot advantage to 22 to 5. LAFC even earned 13 corner kicks while Minnesota took just one all match.

Guarding a two-goal lead from within the first thirty minutes, Minnesota often defended with all ten men back in front of the keeper. Playing defensively allowed LAFC to keep the pressure on all second half, but their efforts would not come to fruition.

Minnesota left Los Angeles with a shutout victory, and LAFC left The Banc stumped for 90 minutes without an answer for United’s defensive tactic. Though Los Angeles suffered its first loss at home with only six matches remaining, nothing they did or changed turned the tide in their favor.

The top spot in the Western Conference will wait another week to be won as LAFC will begin a two-game road trip next Saturday in Orlando.

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