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LAFC vs. Minnesota United FC
MLS 2021 Season - Match 16
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Bally Sports SoCal, Estrella TV
RADIO: 1110 AM ESPN, ESPN App (Audio), KFWB 980 AM
Usually, sides that come from behind in a match with a point in tow is an accomplishment, but that unfortunately does not apply to last Saturday night’s 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Vancouver entered the game second-to last place in the Western Conference with just one win in its last 10 games, but they jumped out to the lead in the 25th minute as Deiber Caicedo tapped in a poor clearance from close range to give his team a 1-0 advantage. Just 13 minutes later it was 2-0 in favor of Vancouver as Cristian Dajome headed a Cristian Gutierrez freekick just inside the far post.
LAFC cut the lead in half in the 40th minute as Carlos Vela beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal for his third goal in the last three games, but as the half ended it was clear that the Club needed a shift. LAFC started slowly, and it was no secret that LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley was not pleased with his team’s effort in the first half, putting together four halftime changes.
“First half: not enough guys ready to play, not sure why, not enough intensity. Tactically in the first half, I thought we got overrun in the center of the field, so we changed at halftime, and I think that part was better,” said Bradley.
“Second half; we do a better job of pushing the game but there’s still too many moments where we hurt ourselves, where we’re closing down and trying to put pressure to see if we can win a ball back, and we commit a silly foul. There’s a part where you’re behind and now we have to push hard to get back into a game and so there’s some credit on that end, but overall, not good enough tonight. Not good enough.”
The second half looked quiet different on the LAFC end, as the Club pressed for the equalizer throughout until Jose Cifuentes volleyed a Diego Palacios cross into the net from the center of the box, tying the score 2-2 in the 75th minute, a score that would ultimately be the last.
Next up for LAFC, a side in Minnesota United FC that the Black and Gold hasn’t faced since Sept. 2019 when they drew 1-1 at Allianz Field. In fact, LAFC hasn’t defeated Minnesota since May 2018, a feat the Club has only accomplished once, with the all-time regular season series sitting at 1-2-1 in Minnesota’s favor.
MNUFC has been on a bit of a tear of late as well, winner four of their last six matches and finding themselves one point less than LAFC in the table with 21 points good for sixth place in the West.
LAFC will have to get the energy flowing early to find a win in this one.
The Western Conference side has changed quite a bit since the Club last faced them in 2019. When the Black and Gold faced them last, they resembled a lot of MLS squads that try and sit back and break up play then try and counter. Now, with skillful additions in Emanuel Reynoso, Franco Fragapane, Adrien Hunou and Robin Lod fresh off a great showing with Finland in the Euros, they will look to attack the Club head on with strong football ideas.
CIFU STILL ROLLING
The Black and Gold lost one of the Club’s most important leaders both on and off the field in Mark-Anthony Kaye after he was traded to the Colorado Rapids, but what the trade also allows if for midfielder José Cifuentes to continue to cement himself in the midfield. Of late he’s been on a tear, picking up four goals and two assists in the Club’s last eight games. In fact, LAFC has yet to lose a match on the year when the 22-year-old earns a point.
“Cifu has been a bright spot. He started the season slowly. He didn’t arrive in the best of shape, and it took a little while to get him fit and to get him confident. There were early games where he had opportunities to play important passes and he missed too often, but little by little you could see him coming around, and in this last stretch he’s been one of our best players,” said Bradley. “It’s exciting for us to see him now more confident, pushing himself, giving more to the team, and that’s something that we’re going to keep trying to move forward. He’s done a very good job.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF
The Club can break them in attacking transition. Minnesota defensively spreads out wide and if LAFC can find open spaces and move the ball quickly, they will find success.
MINNESOTA CAN WIN IF
They can get some magic from their stars, specifically Reynoso, they can find success. Also noteworthy, if goalkeeper Tyler Miller steps up against his old teammates, Minnesota will be tough to take three points from.
Inspired by Pulp Fiction (1994).