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Minnesota United FC vs. Los Angeles Football Club | 2018 MLS Match Preview

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. LOS ANGELES FOOTBALL CLUB
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
7.22.18 | MLS Week No. 21 | MLS Game No. 21
6:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

Seeking a third-straight win and a fourth-straight triumph on its home ground, Minnesota United welcomes expansion side Los Angeles Football Club to TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday night as it wraps up a stretch of five of six matches at home. Red-hot LAFC comes to Minneapolis unbeaten in its last six matches (4-0-2) and has taken 14 points over that stretch.

Sunday’s Western Conference clash kicks off at 6:00 p.m. CT. Pre-game coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

“We have a lot of confidence from the last two games, as we should.” Heath said. “We have played some really good football. We’ve looked dangerous and looked like we’re going to score goals. It is going to be another big game for us, but one if we were to take three points would be nine in a week. That would be a great week for us.”

Heath complimented his team’s attacking play over the life of its winning streak, but it was a composed defensive effort and a few timely saves from goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth that saw Wednesday’s 2-1 win over New England through to the final whistle. One piece of that was the switch to a zonal scheme on set pieces and corner kicks, but overall the switch to a 3-5-2 shape seems to be paying increasing defensive dividends for the Loons.

Minnesota’s back line will have to be up to the task on Sunday as it looks to put an exclamation point on its current home stand. With 41 goals on the season, LAFC boasts the highest scoring offense in the Western Conference and the second most potent attack in all of MLS. Los Angeles complements an array of dangerous forwards with quality in midfield and can attack you in a variety of ways. Forward Adama Diomande leads the way with nine goals in just eight games since joining the team in May, but defending LAFC requires a bit of a “pick your poison” approach, with forwards Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing and Marco Urena all more than capable.

“It is about pretending it is any other game,” midfielder Miguel Ibarra said. “We know they have big players. We have played teams with big players, like Toronto. We have to approach this team the same. We know we are hard to beat at home and I think we can make it difficult for LAFC to play here.”

MNUFC will counter Los Angeles’s array of offensive talent with a star of its own in forward Darwin Quintero, who has shone brightly over the team’s current home stand. Quintero exerted another spectacular individual effort on his highlight reel-worthy game-winning goal against the Revolution. The strike was the Colombian’s fifth tally in the Loons’ last four matches to go along with a pair of assists.

Quintero’s spectacular form has carried his team to within three points of a playoff spot in the West. The Designated Player has directly contributed to seven of the Loons’ last nine goals and has consecutive MLS Team of the Week selections and a Player of the Week nod to show for it.

“I said when we got him, if we could get enough ball to him in and around the final third he would create and score goals,” Heath said. “That is what he does. If we can get him enough ball, not only can he create but he can score himself, score off of the dribble and he has a great range of passing. He has been terrific the last few weeks.”

After dueling with LAFC, Quintero and Minnesota United will head to the Pacific Northwest to square off with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, July 28. That game will commence at 9:00 p.m. CT with pre-match coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United FC
OUT:
D – Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg)
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)

QUESTIONABLE:
F – Abu Danladi (left leg)

Los Angeles Football Club
OUT:
GK - Quilian Roberts (right fibular fracture)
M - Eduard Atuesta (left ankle sprain)

FIRST TOUCHES:

  • LAFC forward Carlos Vela’s brother, Alejandro, played for Minnesota United during its NASL tenure. He made eight appearances for the Loons in 2015.
  • LAFC midfielder Calum Mallace played for MNUFC in 2013. He made 12 appearances and scored one goal on loan from Montreal Impact.
  • Bob Bradley coached Manny Lagos and Amos Magee when they played for Chicago Fire. Lagos played for the Fire in 1998 and 1999, while Magee was on the team in 2001-02.
  • Jordan Harvey and Michael Boxall were teammates on Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2011 to 2012.
  • Steven Beitashour and Sam Cronin played together for the San Jose Earthquakes from 2010 to 2013.
  • Dejan Jakovic and Collin Martin were both on D.C. United’s roster in 2013.
  • Francisco Calvo and Marco Urena represented Costa Rica at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
  • Laurent Ciman, Eric Miller and Johan Venegas all played for Montreal Impact in 2015.
  • Lee Nguyen and Bobby Shuttleworth were mainstays at New England Revolution together from 2012 through 2016.
  • Benny Feilhaber played with Shuttleworth at New England in 2011 and 2012.
  • 27,544 fans attended Minnesota’s 2-1 win over New England Revolution on Wednesday, July 18, the second-largest crowd in club history behind its inaugural MLS home match in 2017.
  • With the win over New England on Wednesday, the Loons have won three-consecutive home games for the first time since joining MLS.
  • MNUFC is averaging three goals per game in its past three home games. It averaged 1.1 goals per game in its previous eight at TCF Bank Stadium.
  • MNUFC has claimed nine points in the past four MLS matches (2-1 over NE, 3-2 over RSL, 0-3 vs. HOU, 4-3 over TOR).
  • Christian Ramirez scored his fifth goal of the season on Wednesday, a fifth-minute chip. It was his first goal since the 3-2 defeat at Colorado Rapids on June 23.
  • Ramirez’s fifth-minute chip was the fastest MNUFC has scored in MLS.
  • Ramirez tied his club record with six shots taken against New England. He originally set that mark on April 1, 2017 against Real Salt Lake.
  • Darwin Quintero has scored five goals and provided two assists in the past four games. He currently leads the club with eight goals on the year.
  • Quintero now leads the Loons with 17 shots on goal, overtaking Miguel Ibarra’s tally of 16.
  • Quintero’s stoppage-time goal in the first half of the game against New England Revolution was his second game-winner of the season. He is now tied with Ibarra for most game-winning goals on the team.
  • Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves against New England Revolution to claim his 16th career win for Minnesota.
  • Shuttleworth has made 67 saves and is tied for the fourth-most in MLS.
  • Michael Boxall made his 50th MLS appearance last match. He has taken the field 31 times for Minnesota along with 19 appearances for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
  • Lee Nguyen will be unavailable for LAFC this match due to a red card on July 15.
  • Adama Diomande has three multi-goal games this season, tied for the second-most. LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads MLS with four.
  • Diomande leads the league with an average of 1.13 goals per game.
  • Ibarra and Diomande are tied for the league’s best shots-on-goal percentage, with 66.7% of shots ending up on target.
  • Tyler Miller’s 10 wins tie him for the third-most in the league.
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