Minnesota United dropped their second consecutive match Wednesday night in a 4-3 loss to the LA Galaxy. After leading 3-1 at halftime, the Loons failed to keep their rhythm in the latter stages of the game, ultimately caving to the pressure put on by an LA side that was desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This one was exciting right off the bat, with a crazy sequence in the Loons’ penalty area in the 3rd minute setting the tone for what would be a wild first 45. Dayne St. Clair stood tall in his first test of the night, allowing his team to stay level and push forward. The first 15 minutes were wide open, with shots on both ends and both teams spreading out to take advantage of the full pitch.
As the intensity cranked up, the home side found the breakthrough. Some slick play from Mark Delgado and Tyler Boyd created the perfect opportunity for Riqui Puig to have a crack in the 16th minute. While the Spaniard’s effort didn’t beat DSC, the living fossil, Billy Sharp, was in the perfect spot to put away the rebound and give his side the lead, but not for long.
The Loons were back in the attacking third almost immediately, with DJ Taylor advancing to add some width. The fullback’s cross in the 19th minute bounced around, ultimately falling to Teemu Pukki for a sublime finish that kissed off the crossbar and in to level the game.
From that point on, the game seemed to open up even more. Either team could’ve scored at any moment, as counterattacks and rushed plays led to shot after shot. Just when it seemed like the match was going to get out of control, a flurry of yellow cards and fouls slowed the momentum and reset the shape for both sides.
The Black and Blue ended the half with a flourish, as Bongokuhle Hlongwane found the net two times after the 40th minute. His first goal came courtesy of a wild deflection, looping off of Raheem Edwards and over the outstretched gloves of a helpless Jonathan Bond. The third and final goal of the night for the visitors came from a fantastic counterattack that saw Teemu Pukki’s cross find a wide-open Bongi.
As crazy as it seems, that was just the first half. Though the Loons entered the locker room with a comfortable 3-1 lead, this match was far from over.
The Galaxy immediately looked more comfortable in the second 45, passing the ball with purpose and creating chances more frequently than they had been all night. MNUFC’s yellow card frustrations continued, and the pressure built once again.
In the 63rd minute, the game broke wide open. Billy Sharp pulled a goal back for his side with his second strike of the night, redirecting Maya Yoshida’s shot from a corner. Sharp would complete his hat trick in the 71st minute with a true poacher’s goal after some confusion in the box caught the MNUFC backline ball-watching. With the scores level once more, the craziness was only going to increase as both sides sought out the winner.
While momentum was already on the home team’s side, a second yellow for Ethan Bristow in the 74th minute saw the Loons go down to ten men, firmly giving the advantage to LA. Riqui Puig’s tireless efforts paid off once again in the 82nd minute, when his cross-field pass set up the play that saw Diego Fagundez score the go-ahead goal. The Galaxy would hold on to the lead for the remainder of regulation, pulling off the comeback and leaving the Loons shell-shocked.
Despite the erratic nature of tonight’s game, there were moments of promise from Minnesota United. A dominant first half showcased everything the team is good at, while quite possibly the worst second half of the season showed just the opposite. A mixture of clinical counters was paired with uncharacteristically casual defending, creating the perfect storm for the barn-burner that played out at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The Loons will be back in action this weekend at Allianz Field as they seek to rediscover their defensive form. St. Louis CITY SC are their next opponents, currently the top team in the Western Conference standings. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT, with streaming available via MLS Season Pass.
Minnesota United FC vs. St. Louis CITY SC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
09.23.23 | MLS Game 29
7:30 pm CT (Watch on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)