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This week’s Storylines feel they're connected to a cinematic universe. But, let's put the focus back on our opponent, one of Major League Soccer’s very best offensive attacks. Ready? Lights, camera, analysis!

Hail Hydra

The key to slowing down LAFC’s high-powered offense could seemingly be thought of by something as simple as, “Hey, let’s stop 2019 MLS MVP, Carlos Vela.” Opponents haven’t exactly been successful with that approach, with Vela leading his team in both goals (4) and assists (3) this season, but slowing down LAFC goes beyond just Vela. Besides LAFC, the most individual goal scorers for all other MLS teams is nine (Atlanta and Austin), with some teams scoring as few as four (Kansas City, Philadelphia, DC United, Chicago, Miami). LAFC has twelve unique goal scorers for their 19 goals — which is by far the most in the league. Minnesota’s goal should be to slow this down, but to quote one nefarious Marvel villain, LAFC’s attack often feels like: “Cut off one head, two more shall take its place.”

The Rey-naissance

After a slow start to the season, Minnesota’s new-found form revolves around the sun, that is, Emanuel Reynoso. With a goal and an assist against Chicago plus two assists against Colorado, Reynoso checked in his first two games with multiple goal involvements since October 2021. To go even further back, this is the first time Reynoso has had back-to-back games with multiple goal involvements since the Loons dramatic run in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, in which Reynoso had four straight games with at least two goal involvements (including the last game of the regular season). Just as LAFC is not exclusively about Vela, Minnesota is not exclusively about Reynoso, but it’s inarguable that the team plays better when he’s in this kind of form.

Possessed

Traditionally, Minnesota has more success playing on the counter-attack, ceding possession to many opponents they’ve played. In two recent matches, the U.S. Open Cup game in Madison and the MLS win over Chicago, Minnesota controlled a majority of the possessions and won. In the first half of the Chicago game, the Loons had the majority of possession in every single five-minute increment of the half, resulting in quality chances from their ball control (most notably Reynoso’s offside goal in the 10th minute and his free kick off the bar in the 20th minute). If the Loons can figure out the secret to consistently scoring goals while controlling possession, they will become an even more dangerous opponent. As we noted in last week’s Storylines, set pieces are a great start, with another goal from a corner kick against Chicago.

MATCH INFO

Minnesota United FC vs. LAFC

Banc of California Stadium | Los Angeles, CA

05.01.22 | MLS Game No. 9

9:00 pm CT (FS1 and SKOR North)