Minnesota United came into their tilt against the LA Galaxy at Allianz Field on a five-game unbeaten streak but would have to face a team they’ve never beaten without their top scorer, Robin Lod, with a calf injury. After a fairly even first half, the visitors leapt ahead shortly before the half. A reinvigorated MNUFC attack piled on the opportunities in the second half, but LA’s goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann — making his first start of the season — stood on his head time and again, keeping the clean sheet and snapping the Loons’ streak.
Inside of the first four minutes, goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann set the tone for the evening as defender Romain Metanire sent a deadly ball directly into the six-yard box, likely hoping to test a keeper getting his first start of the year. The ball found midfielder Ethan Finlay’s foot but Klinsmann was there to punch the ball wide and stymie the close range effort.
Defensively, Minnesota didn’t press the issue too strongly to start the game, setting the line of confrontation just ahead of the midfield and looking to keep LA’s backline from feeding the attack. But the Loons also struggled to move the ball quickly from the back as well, leading to midfielder Emanuel Reynoso having to drop more deeply to get possession and then occasionally falling prey to turnovers close to the midfield line.
While the Galaxy found some seams to exploit through the first 30 minutes, MNUFC managed to recover well, with defender Brent Kallman erasing an opportunity from defender Julian Araujo after he beat Chase Gasper down the right wing. And when called upon, goalkeeper Tyler Miller played aggressively to shut down opportunities.
As the game ticked over the half-hour mark, momentum seemed to shift in Minnesota’s favor as they put together several solid chances, including a counterattack launched off a short corner by LA that ended with a shot from Hassani Dotson that went wide right and a series of crosses from Gasper, Dotson and Metanire that were just inches from finding forward Adrien Hunou’s head. It seemed as if MNUFC were finding a consistent strategy with the fullbacks getting into space on the wing after sending the ball inside early.
But then, in the final minutes of the first half, the defense flagged and the Galaxy were there to pounce. In the 43rd minute, forward Dejan Joveljic found midfielder Kevin Cabral cutting behind the defense and delivered a pinpoint ball that Cabral controlled and fired past Miller for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Minnesota struggled to get the attacking four — Reynoso aside — involved in the game. As they have before this year, they ended up leaning on opportunities from set pieces. In the 58th minute, midfielder Jan Gregus flew in with a towering header off a Reynoso corner kick that Klinsmann pushed away and into the post before it bounced clear. For their part, the Galaxy kept seeking opportunities to double the lead and put the game to bed.
In the 69th minute, Head Coach Adrian Heath went to his bench in the hopes of shaking up the team’s look. He brought in forward Juan Agudelo for Adrien Hunou and Justin McMaster for Jan Gregus. The move brought Hassani Dotson back to the midfield alongside Wil Trapp and put McMaster on the left wing.
The move worked to energize the attack as the Loons piled on opportunities, ending the game with 21 shots and six on goal. But time and again, Klinsmann was there to parry away strong efforts, including a free kick by Reynoso at the top of the D that curled aggressively towards the top right corner before getting punched away by the keeper. In the end, Minnesota would not get a reward for their hard work and fall by a final score of 1-0 as the Galaxy claimed the top spot in the Western Conference.
MAN OF THE MATCH
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. MINNESOTA UNITED
PayPal Park | San Jose, California
08.17.21 | MLS Week No. 19 | MLS Game No. 19
9:30 p.m. CT (Bally Sports North+, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)