After a disappointing trip to the East Coast, Minnesota United is heading to the other side of the country to take on the LA Galaxy this Wednesday, June 29. The Loons will be looking to end their losing streak when they travel to Carson, California to take on one of Major League Soccer’s original clubs.
The Occasion: MLS Week 17; Game No. 17; Road Game No. 9
The Opponent: LA Galaxy
The Galaxy have been frequent opponents of Minnesota United since the Loons joined MLS. The two teams have already played each other 11 times in the league, with the series at 6-2-3 leaning in favor of the Californians. These games typically come with some excitement, especially in recent times.
Fans will remember this season’s matchup at Allianz Field that ended in a 1-1 draw. It was a game characterized by fantastic goalkeeping on both sides, as well as a dominant, creative performance from the Loons. Although they were playing on the front foot for most of the game, an unlucky handball in the box gave LA the chance to go ahead via a converted Sacha Kljestan penalty kick in the 83rd minute. The Loons refused to quit though, ultimately leading to a dramatic equalizer in the 87th minute. An inspired run and cross from DJ Taylor met the outstretched leg of Robin Lod, who buried it in the back of the net to send the crowd into fits. After such an exciting outing last time around, this game promises to be one to watch.
Their Run of Form: L-D-L-W-D
Week 11 – 1-3 L vs FC Dallas (Goal from Douglas Costa)
Week 12 – 1-1 D at Minnesota United (Goal from Sacha Kljestan)
Week 13 – 0-3 L vs. Houston Dynamo
Week 14 – 4-1 W vs. Austin FC (Goals from Chicharito, Dejan Joveljić (2), and Efraín Álvarez)
Week 15 – 1-1 D vs. Portland Timbers (Goal from Dejan Joveljić)
The Galaxy were meant to play San Jose Earthquakes this past weekend at Stanford Stadium, but power outages at the arena forced this edition of the California Clásico to be delayed until September 24. Their last five results have been a mixed bag, but they find themselves within touching distance of crosstown rivals LAFC at the top of the table.
Last season alone, these two played one another three times in the regular season. The first game came early in the season and set the tone for a bit of a rivalry last year. It was all one-way traffic in favor of Minnesota United when a counter-attack led to a goal from Kevin Cabral just before the stroke of halftime. Despite Minnesota’s dominant performance, in which they outshot the Galaxy 21-10, Cabral’s goal would prove to be enough to give the Galaxy a 1-0 win. The next match between the two had a similar feel to it, but the Loons’ dominance was finally rewarded with a 3-0 scoreline and three points for the men of Minnesota.
The rubber match ended up being played on Decision Day, with both teams fighting to make the playoffs. The stakes were high and the game did not disappoint. This six-goal thriller had everything; two goals from Chicharito, multiple lead changes, and an own goal that decided the fate of both teams. This chaotic game left the galaxy in eighth place in the Western Conference, finishing outside of the playoffs on goal difference alone. They ended the season with 48 points, just one fewer than the Loons.
That was then, this is now
The LA Galaxy have a rich history. In 1996, they became one of MLS’ original 10 charter clubs and have gone on to become the most successful team in the league’s growing history. Hollywood’s team has been to more MLS Cups than any other team, winning five and losing four. They are the only MLS team to have accumulated that impressive tally of five championships, and have managed to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 19 out of 26 MLS seasons.
The trophies and accolades didn’t just fall into their laps, though. The Galaxy have a laundry list of high-profile players that have worn the colors, including David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and so many more. With players of that caliber, the Galaxy have always been relevant in league play. The City of Angels has always had superstars, on and off the pitch. But as the old adage says, what goes up must come down.
Since 2017, LA has made the playoffs just once. Their last MLS Cup was in 2014, and the star signings have gotten smaller and smaller. In 2017, the club finished with the worst points total in the entire league, adding the infamous Wooden Spoon to their trophy case for the first time. Just last week, they went crashing out of the US Open Cup after losing to USL side Sacramento Republic FC.
The team that used to write the headlines for MLS is now second place in its own city. Do the Galaxy have enough star power left to recover, or has the league outgrown the team that put it on the map?
Over the first half of the season, the Galaxy’s attack has done just enough to get by. They’ve only managed to score 18 goals in 15 games from just seven different goal scorers. Mexican international Chicharito leads the team in scoring with six goals, followed by the impressive contributions of Dejan Joveljić. The 22-year-old Serbian has scored four goals in just 284 minutes this year, averaging out to an impressive clip of a goal every 71 minutes.
Other threats to look out for include young star Efraín Álvarez and Brazilian DP Douglas Costa. While both have produced some good attacking play this year, Galaxy fans will be hoping to see a lot more production from both players moving forward. Winger Kevin Cabral has had a very disappointing season thus far, failing to contribute any goals or assists after 15 games.
Without any clear in-form players, Galaxy manager Greg Vanney has a lot of flexibility for starters across the front line. It’s likely that we’ll see Samuel Grandsir starting at left wing, with Kevin Cabral on the right. Chicharito is the obvious choice up top, while veteran Victor Vazquez has been getting the nod at the 10 in recent weeks.
With the Galaxy struggling to score goals, it’s been their defense that has kept them so close to the Supporter’s Shield race. They have conceded just 16 goals, third best in the MLS. The center back pairing of Williams and DePuy has proven solid recently, with effective performances from Sega Coulibaly as well.
At right back, Mexican international Julian Araujo adds to the game in both the attack and in the back. Araujo will be looking to make up for the own goal he scored when these teams met on Decision Day last year, a mistake that surely weighed on the young defender. Look out for dangerous runs down the right flank from Araujo all game long.
With Minnesota in a rut and the Galaxy struggling to score, it’s anyone’s guess who will find the breakthrough first. With both teams in need of a creative spark in the attack, we may see some lineup or formation adjustments. No matter who is selected for the starting lineups, though, this game has rarely failed to live up to the hype. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be end to end, and it’s probably going to be a tough task for the Loons.
Both teams have a point to prove this Wednesday. LA will be trying to show their fans and the rest of the league that they are still a force to be reckoned with, while Minnesota will be trying to finally play up to their potential after a disappointing run of games. If this game is anything like the last few matchups between these teams, strap in for a wild ride.
Minnesota United FC v. LA Galaxy
Dignity Health Sports Park | Carson, CA
Wednesday, June 29
9:30 pm CT (MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)