LAFC lose at home for first time this season against Minnesota United

LAFC lose at home
ATLANTA, GA — AUGUST 27: Mason Toye #23 of Minnesota United controls the ball during the second half of the U.S. Open Cup Final vs Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 27, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images).

Los Angeles, California — For the first time this season, LAFC failed to defend The Banc. A determined Minnesota United came into the match with a plan in place, and executed it to perfection. While LAFC sit comfortably atop the Western Conference, the difference between second and eighth, is merely six points.

Minnesota came into the match needing to do what hadn’t been all year, just to have a chance at the postseason. After a massive effort from an unlikely source, they found themselves on the right side of the line.

Mason Toye leads Minnesota to three points, handing LAFC their first loss at home

Mason Toye entered Sunday night with three goals and making only his fourth start of the year. Having been called up to the US U-23 squad earlier in the week, Toye continued his streak of good fortune against the league’s best. In the 25th minute, a counterattack set Toye free along the wing. After a pretty one-two touch with the midfield and with the angle against him, Toye sent in a perfect left-footed curler past Pablo Sisniega for the lead.

He doubled that lead just four minutes later with an even more better strike. Finding himself with space, Toye sent in a laser from 25 yards out that found the top corner. Almost immediately Minnesota dug into its defending, protecting the lead they had worked for.

With a rotated squad — and Carlos Vela out with a hamstring injury — LAFC couldn’t overcome the early two goal deficit. For the first time this year, a team took all three points from The Banc.

Minnesota’s Game Plan

From the off, Minnesota United were clear in their intention: to defend, at the Banc. While not foreign to the host side, LAFC, they were caught at the perfect moment. With their captain out with injury, and a rotated squad while many prepare to head out for international break, LAFC were susceptible to an upset. Minnesota were able to exploit a mistake-laden midfield and made use of their limited counterattack chances.

Finishing the match with just four shots on target, five total, Toye’s success early on proved vital to Minnesota taking all three points. Allowing LAFC to maintain 77 percent of the possession, they sat back, defended and held on to their lead. Many will obviously call out Minnesota for “parking the bus.” However, with everything to play for, with everything on the line, now is the time to exploit every weakness the opposition has. Minnesota went from almost out of the playoffs, to now third in the standings, for them, that’s a plan perfected.

LAFC’s Wake-Up Call

There are times where a team just needs to be reminded of the task at hand. Up until now, LAFC have been fortunate enough to avoid the fray that is the Western Conference. However, the loss to Minnesota was just a reminder that there is work to do. In addition to a healing Vela, LAFC will lose a handful of players to the upcoming international break.

One positive from last night had to be the eye-opening, albeit brief, performance of new man, Brian Rodríguez. After the match, manager Bob Bradley spoke on his decision to pull Brian off early.

“Brian was going to be 45-60 (minutes),” Bradley said. “He had a tendency in the first half to just wait for balls to come to his feet, and we weren’t dynamic enough on that side of the field.”

It is clear that Rodríguez has the raw talent and ability to be a force in the MLS for years to come. However, he still clearly needs time to build that chemistry with his new teammates. It wasn’t all critical for the young forward, Bradley later went on to praise the youngsters ability on the dribble. While fans may not agree with the substitution, it’s the chemistry and rhythm within which this team play that has led to their success until now.

The Look Ahead

LAFC still sit only three points away from clinching the top spot in the West and a first-round bye week. With the loss, they also remain 10 points away from securing the Supporter’s Shield. Saturday night, LAFC travel to face Orlando City SC, in a match that favors the visitors on paper.

However, with Vela likely to sit out one more week, and with a short-handed squad due to internationals, things could get tricky. Even while missing regulars, LAFC have proven they have the talent to beat anyone, anywhere. However, they have also proven they can lose to anyone, at anytime.

With a grueling stretch of teams in the middle of a playoff push ahead, this weekend’s match is crucial for LAFC. Make no mistakes, they need the full three points this time.

 

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