Minnesota United extracted their revenge, and then some, from LAFC on Sunday. A 2-0 loss back in May at Banc of California Stadium was flipped on its head with the Loons running out 5-1 winners this time around. There will be good days and bad days in any season. This was a bad day, a very bad day for LAFC.
The result raises a lot of questions. And there's a condensed week to prepare for the Galaxy match on Thursday. Let's have a look at the takeaways from this match:
Missing The Final Pass
My first thought when I saw the starting 11: Who's going to play these guys through?
Have a look at LAFC's pass map in final third on Sunday:
Starting with a front four of Latif Blessing, Diego Rossi, Aaron Kovar, and Marco Ureña, LAFC had a lot of runners up top but not much creativity. Early on, it didn't seem to be a problem as Benny Feilhaber was able to get forward enough to provide that needed passing ability in attack. But as the game got stretched, Feilhaber had fewer opportunities to push forward, and increasingly, LAFC's front four looked out of ideas on the ball.
Couple that with the Minnesota's willingness to sink back and remain narrow, and LAFC found themselves crowded out on too many occasions in the final third.
Minnesota Goes Vertical
Lacking that creative spark in the offensive third, LAFC's attack resorted to trying to breakdown the Loons with sheer numbers. But again, without that final pass, the Minnesota defense found it all too easy to turnover the Black & Gold time and again. Once the Loons had the ball, they had ample space to go forward immediately.
It now seems the first handful of balls Minnesota played out of the back were warning shots. LAFC easily recovered the long balls early in the first 20 minutes, and maybe got a little complacent. Once the Loons found their angles, more and more passes found Minnesota players in large pockets of space and with room to run at the exposed LAFC.
Darwin Quintero, in particular, lives for those open spaces and isolated defenders. And he had LAFC's backline scrambling all match.
"We deserved to get smacked."
That was Bob Bradley immediately after the match talking about his team. And how could you disagree with him?
Not to take anything away from Minnesota, but four of the five goals were the result of individual mistakes that were made worse by a teammates' unwillingness to cover. Rotations were missed. Tackles were missed. And players were allowed to run free in dangerous areas of the pitch. That's not tactics, that's effort.
LAFC fielded a lineup that was heavy with changes. The impetus was mostly rest for key guys, but if you're one of the players getting a shot today, you had to see opportunity.
Not a single player seized that chance today. And that goes for some of the regulars, too. With LAFC still in two competitions, the games are going to continue to come fast and heavy. Bradley would like to be able to rely on his entire squad, and I think he has more doubts than answers now. Minnesota have had a nice run of late and are strong at home, but the 5-1 loss is unacceptable.
Opportunities to prove yourself beyond the training ground don't come around often as the season gets to the business end. Today's match was a loss in more ways than one for some.