Here’s what stood out to us about the match.
The Mason Toye Show
Minnesota United started the game off with a very defensive formation, and LAFC maintained a majority of possession, as they usually do at home. But as the saying goes, if you don’t take your chances, you get punished at the other end. To be fair LAFC didn’t generate many chances early on, but they were punished nonetheless. The first goal was a well worked counterattack with Mason Toye and Jan Gregus, with an impressive left-footed finish by Toye on a tight angle.
The second strike was arguably more impressive, a long ball played in that was not dealt with, and Toye unleashed a strike from outside the box that rattled the net. It was the second week in a row that despite bossing the play, LAFC found themselves down two goals early at home.
Subs straight away
Bob Bradley evidently had seen enough by halftime, as he made two subs to start the second half.
Mark-Anthony Kaye came in for Brian Rodriguez, and Mohamed El-Munir came on for Jordan Harvey.
Bob Bradley is not known being overly aggressive with his subs, but he saw that LAFC were not breaking down Minnesota United enough, and wanted to add some fresh legs and creativity to the game.
Afterwards, some fans wondered why Rodriguez was brought off so early. Yes, LAFC needed a change, but the halftime sub seemed a bit harsh for the man making runs and serving corner kicks.
No Vela No Party
Carlos Vela was not active for this game, still recovering from that hamstring injury he suffered last week against the Galaxy. Without Vela, LAFC were lacking that killer edge to break down a well-organized Minnesota United.
Any team missing the league MVP is going to struggle when they are out, and credit to Minnesota for keeping compact and disciplined the back. Unfortunately, LAFC were not able to generate enough offense in Vela’s absence.
A change of style for the playoffs?
There have been a lot of parallels between LAFC and Atlanta United for how they entered the league, the players the bought, the immediate buy-in from the fans. It will be interesting to see if LAFC follow Atlanta United’s path in the playoffs for their MLS Cup run. Like LAFC, Atlanta United were an expansive free flowing attacking side through the MLS regular season.
But last year during the playoffs, Atlanta United played a much more pragmatic and counterattacking style, and they rode that all the way to the MLS Cup title.
Will LAFC employ a similar strategy? It seems unlikely, Bradley has not shown much inclination to deviate from his style, and with good reason, it’s been so successful. But it’s always nice to have a Plan B for when you are struggling to break teams down.
Tough stretch ahead
Besides Vela’s injury there was a decent amount of rotation in this game as well, and it makes sense given LAFC’s upcoming schedule.
After a few games at home, LAFC head to Orlando next Saturday for a matchup with Orlando City SC. Orlando currently sit outside of the playoffs in the east, but they’re much improved from where they were last season.
Then the following Saturday, LAFC face off against the Philadelphia Union on the road.
Philly is top of the east now, coming off an impressive win over Atlanta United. It will definitely be a tough match.
The rotations tonight did not quite pan out, but let’s hope the team is rested and ready for their road trip coming up this month.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!