After playing three matches on the road, the Loons finally returned home to play against LA Galaxy this past Saturday.
The Loons’ starting lineup for this match featured Robin Lod in the false 9 role and midfielder Emanuel Reynoso, both returning from injuty. It was clear that the two missed playing, because four minutes into the first half, Lod passed a ball back to Reynoso who got the ball on his favored left foot and slotted his shot into the bottom right corner of the goal from about 20 yards out. Not long after, in the 22nd minute, the Argentine scored his second goal of the night, curving the ball into the goal from outside of the box again, giving the Loons a 2-0 lead. In the second half, Ethan Finlay notched the third goal for the Loons from a through ball that went over the top of the Galaxy’s defensive line from Franco Fragapane, securing the Loons’ victory.
“We showed character,” said Reynoso. “We came back from losing our previous game. We came back from injuries. There's a lot of injuries happening to us in the group. But we have to be strong, united, everyone together on the same path. Happy for the triumph. Happy for the triumph that we gave to our fans, for ourselves too, that we needed and we're really close. We're all together so we have to win points. Playing at home is very important for us to get points. Congratulations to all my teammates, we did a great job.”
Reynoso’s contribution earned him a spot on MLS’s Week 26 Team of the Week. The left-footed midfielder went three weeks without playing due to injury, came back and led Minnesota to their first ever win against the Galaxy. He currently has four goals this season, tied for second on the team with Adrien Hunou.
“It just makes our jobs so much easier at the back because he gives you something to protect as well as dictating the flow of the game,” said defender Michael Boxall. “When we’re defending for a few minutes at a time, he takes the pressure off of us and makes sure we look after the ball. And, obviously, anything within 30 yards of the goal, he’s dangerous. Whether he’s providing, or as he proved on the weekend, scoring bangers.”
In addition to being the team’s first-ever win over LA, it was the first time this season the Loons scored more than two goals. The three points meant a lot to Minnesota, as they held onto a playoff spot and are now in a tight battle for positioning in the Western Conference playoffs.
“For the coaches, a bit more stressful, I can assure you,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “The one good this is because we’ve played each other each week, you feel as though even if you don’t get the right result this week, if you get the one next week cause you’re playing another team that’s in and around you, then you’ve got an opportunity. I think it’s going to be really, really tight all the way through but I’m really looking forward to the next ten games for sure.”
This Saturday the Loons will welcome back Houston Dynamo as they play their Hispanic Heritage match. The Dynamo played against LA Galaxy the week prior and tied 1-1. Although the Loons beat the Galaxy this past weekend, Houston is hungry for points as they are seated at the bottom of the Western Conference.