As we prepare for Minnesota United’s first-ever home playoff game on Sunday, October 20 against the LA Galaxy, we’re taking an opportunity to look back at 10 of our favorite moments from what was a historic, dramatic and action-packed 2019 regular season.
It’s no exaggeration to say that for most of the regular season, Los Angeles Football Club absolutely torched the league. They ended the season with a record goal differential of +48. For contrast, seven MLS teams didn’t even score that many goals total. Carlos Vela broke the record for goals in a season set just last year by Josef Martinez. And they almost went undefeated at home. Almost.
The lone black mark on LAFC’s home record came courtesy of Minnesota United on Sunday, September 1. With the Loons vying for the playoffs, results were needed but few had likely looked at the team’s first visit to the Banc of California as a source, especially not after the letdown following the team’s loss to Atlanta United in the U.S. Open Cup Final earlier in the week.
But as they have time and again this season, the team responded.
Minnesota came out in a 3-5-2 that gave the team the ability to both drop deep into a thick low block with five at the back and three midfielders in front of them, and provide space for attackers Darwin Quintero and Mason Toye to spring forward on the break and make things happen. With goals in the 25th and 29th minute, Toye displayed his burgeoning scoring ability with textbook finishes while Vito Mannone and the backline frustrated the LAFC attack time and again.
“Trust me,” said goalkeeper Vito Mannone recently. “I’ve lost a final in other times and it fell really, really hard on my previous teammates and club. I was at Sunderland and we almost took a month and a half to recover from losing a final. This team bounced right back against LAFC. That’s the secret of a positive team and a team who wants to achieve something.”