Sports Mole previews Monday’s Major League Soccer clash between Los Angeles FC and Minnesota United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
At the moment, LA hold the best record in Major League Soccer with 19 points after eight games, while The Loons are fifth in the Western Conference following a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire last Saturday.
Despite conceding first for a third successive domestic encounter, Los Angeles FC found a way back into their match with Cincinnati, scoring two second half goals to capture a 2-1 win.
While pleased, of course, with the final result, manager Steve Cherundolo thought that his players struggled with their rhythm and ball movement for large portions of that game.
As Cherundolo put it, you will be faced with adversity over the course of a long season, and the team will need to find solutions, which they have done throughout this campaign, collecting 10 points from losing positions.
Some stalwart attackers have made a big difference in their early success, but this is a team with a lot of scoring depth all over the field, as 12 different players have found the back of the net for them so far this season.
One thing that was often missing in 2021 from this group was a lot of character along with team spirit, and they have shown plenty more of both in 2022, which has contributed to their success.
Another victory on Sunday would mark their second three-game winning streak of this campaign, which would also equal the number of consecutive league triumphs for The Black and Gold last year.
It has been a successful couple of weeks for Adrian Heath and his Minnesota United team that are finding some decent form.
The Loons have woken up offensively, scoring eight goals in their last three encounters in all competitions, three more than they scored in their previous six MLS fixtures combined.
Their motto has been to keep plugging away while staying patient, which has served them well this month, as seven of their goals scored on their current winning streak have come in the second half, six of which came with fewer than 20 minutes remaining.
In the early portion of the campaign, this team have shown that they have a lot of depth in midfield, with versatile players capable of defending, closing down space, and at times being a threat in the attack.
Heath will be pleased with the organisation and overall professional effort that his group have given since defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-1.
The Loons seem content with not having a ton of possession, with their highest percentage after 90 minutes this year coming against the Fire last week, when they had 57% of the ball.
They have not lost to LAFC since the first time the two teams met over three years ago, while Minnesota pulled off a famous road victory against them in 2019 (2-0), the same season that LA set what was at the time an MLS record for points in the regular-season(72).
Los Angeles FC Major League Soccer form:
Los Angeles FC form (all competitions):
Minnesota United Major League Soccer form:
Minnesota United form (all competitions):
LAFC were able to get some different contributors last Sunday as Kellyn Acosta and Danny Musovski each notched their first of the campaign, while leading goalscorer Carlos Vela set up the winner, his second assist of 2022.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is not expected to play due to a left quad strain, Brian Rodriguez has a pulled right hamstring, Julian Gaines is dealing with a pelvic issue, while Erik Duenas along with Eddie Segura remain sidelined because of left and right knee injuries, respectively.
On Monday, The Black and Gold signed forward Nathan Ordaz through until the 2025 MLS campaign with an option for 2026, making him the fourth homegrown signing in franchise history after Duenas, Christian Torres and Tony Leone.
The depth of Minnesota will be put to the test in this match as they are missing some critical components to their midfield.
Wil Trapp is suspended after receiving another caution last Saturday, Hassani Dotson is out for the year after tearing his right ACL, Patrick Weah is nursing a knee issue and Romain Metanire has a thigh injury.
Robin Lod has goals in back-to-back MLS encounters, leading the team with three on the season, followed closely by Emanuel Reynoso, who notched the winner in the 72nd minute against Chicago, while Kervin Arriaga scored his first of the campaign.
With the World Cup on the horizon, Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair will be out to prove to Canadian manager John Herdman that he deserves to be one of the players chosen for the finals in Qatar as he will take on his fellow countryman this weekend, Maxime Crepeau, with the two are expected to be in the running for a spot on the national team.
Los Angeles FC possible starting lineup:
Crepeau; Palacios, Henry, Murillo, Hollingshead; Sanchez; Blessing, Acosta, Cifuentes, Vela; Arango
Minnesota United possible starting lineup:
St. Clair; Fisher, Boxall, Dibassy, Lawrence; Arriaga, Hayes; Lod, Reynoso, Fragapane; Amarilla
We say: Los Angeles FC 1-0 Minnesota United
This match will feature two of the top keepers in MLS, who have shown plenty of times that they can steal a game on their own.
That being said, we expect The Loons to have a tough time closing down LA in transition and with the quality and depth that Cherundolo can count on, they should eventually find a way to beat St. Clair.