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WE ARE ALL IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER GOING TO RESEDA SOMEDAY: Soccer is cruel. We know this. It’s one of the reasons that expected goals is at once both such an illuminating and illusionary statistic. On the one hand, it gives us a better understanding of how well a team is playing up to the final ball, rather than simply relying on the handful of times a team actually scores to evaluate them. But on the other hand, results aren’t going to be overturned just because the losing team actually had the better chances. Expected goals can’t change games, only real ones. Take poor LAFC, for example: They’ve scored 23 goals but their xG over at American Soccer Analysis is 29.34. Simulating the shots they’ve taken in games so far 1,000 times yields an expected points total of 32.3, which would put them third instead of seventh in the Western Conference. One of the teams they would handily displace? Minnesota’s next opponent, the LA Galaxy, who have been almost exactly as lucky as LAFC have been unlucky. The Galaxy have 32 points right now, but their expected points sits at just 22.95 — a mark that would put them in LAFC’s place. Since regression to the mean is basically inevitable in all things, it certainly seems like the positive vibes of Galaxy’s season may be due for a reckoning before too long.

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Which brings us to a Minnesota United side that’s developed a bit of a reputation as a vibe breaker. Back in 2019, Matias Almeyda took over the San Jose Earthquakes and installed his now-notorious aggressive man-marking scheme. It was fun to watch, but it also took a while to come together. By June of that year, though, the Quakes had become league darlings for their energetic, unusual approach and had ripped off six unbeaten, including a 3-0 drubbing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Galaxy. But on July 3, Minnesota United beat them 3-1 at Allianz Field. It took the rest of the league a while to catch on, but the Quakes only won two of their final 11 games, including losing their last five and ultimately missing the playoffs. That same year, LAFC had racked up five wins and a draw prior to welcoming the Loons to Banc of California Stadium. MNUFC played a cagey counterattacking game and came away with a 2-0 win — LAFC’s only home loss in the regular season that year. LAFC went on to draw four of its six final games. And then of course, there was the 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders earlier this year that snapped that team’s record-setting 13-game unbeaten streak to start the season. Whether you chalk those results up to tactics, talent, luck, or some combination of all the above, the Loons have unmistakably shown a flair for disrupting and frustrating opponents in some high leverage moments. Look for them to do their best to do more of the same against the Galaxy this weekend, a team they’ve yet to beat in MLS.

I CAN CLEARLY NOT CHOOSE THE WINE IN FRONT OF ME: The game against the Galaxy marks the start of another stretch of three games in eight days. The last stretch like this saw the Loons defeat the Timbers at home and get two draws on the road against LAFC and Vancouver. The hoped-for results from two home games split by a road game — Galaxy on Saturday, at San Jose on Wednesday and back at Allianz Field against SKC next Saturday — will be higher, more along the lines of seven points. To get there, Head Coach Adrian Heath may have to take a long hard look at rotating the squad somewhere in the next three games and the question becomes where and when. A week’s rest and a home game against a team above them means we’re likely to see more or less the same starting XI against the Galaxy as last week against Houston. The three-game stretch ends with that home matchup with Sporting Kansas City, who currently sit atop the Western Conference, making it a massively important six-point game. That would seem to point to the game against San Jose as an opportunity to get some fresh legs on the field. But the Quakes — who have backed off from the aggressive man-marking scheme that has heretofore defined Almeyda’s tenure — are unbeaten in seven and have added forward Jeremy Ebobisse from the Portland Timbers. It’s not going to be a walk in the park at PayPal Park, and maybe you can rely on some of Minnesota’s robust homefield advantage to carry you through the game against SKC. However: Since MNUFC are playing on Tuesday night against San Jose and SKC are playing Wednesday against Portland, the Loons will have an extra day of rest, so it could be a chance to really put the screws to a conference rival. But also: It’s really easy to overthink all this. Maybe the best approach is to pick the best players who are ready go for every game. On the other hand …

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