Minnesota United entered its homestand finale against visiting expansion club Los Angeles Football Club with cautious optimism. The Loons hoped to come away with a victory and secure nine crucial points in a week, but they never expected the points to come from five goals, all scored in one hour against one of the top clubs in MLS.
Manager Adrian Heath’s starting lineup was yet again unchanged, the third time he deployed this combination. New signing Romario Ibarra was in the match day squad for this match.
LAFC immediately took charge of the game, pressing, pressuring and generally maintaining an unfair chunk of possession. Though the visitors had five corners in the first fifteen minutes, they were unable to crack through the Loons’ defense early on.
Forced into a counter-attacking mindset, Minnesota struggled even to attack on the break. With wingbacks Miguel Ibarra and Alexi Gómez stuck deep in their own end defending, United’s counterattacks only consisted of one or two central midfielders plus Darwin Quintero and Christian Ramirez. The lack of attackers in wide areas funneled chances right to LAFC’s centerbacks, effectively mulling any opportunities the Loons could scrounge.
That said, Quintero was able to display his skill and creativity, earning a corner that Francisco Calvo put just over the bar. The DP also forced Tyler Miller into a fully-extended dive to deny him at the far post.
Ibarra gave Ibson a golden opportunity just after the 20-minute mark thanks to a dummy from Ramirez, but the Brazilian midfielder skied his shot. Five minutes later, Rasmus Schüller, another central midfielder, fin(n)ished a golden opportunity from Quintero.
It didn’t take long for LAFC to respond. Benny Feilhaber sent Brent Kallman the wrong way and tucked his shot around Bobby Shuttleworth to equalize.
Alexi Gómez, who received on-the-field medical treatment, left the game after 30 minutes due to that injury. Eric Miller replaced him.
The Loons found another string of chances in the minutes before halftime with Ibson, Quintero, and Calvo all getting involved on the attack. A loose ball off a corner fell to Christian Ramirez, who scored in his second consecutive game after our, uh, rankings.
The scoring was not about to end however, as Quintero took it upon himself to make the game 3-1 at the half.
Miguel Ibarra added himself to the growing score sheet ten minutes into the second. Ramirez laid the ball off for him and Batman came flying in to rocket the ball past Miller...
And literally only moments later, the combination flipped as Ibarra supplied Ramirez with a chance to score, which Superman did.
Miller almost gifted the Loons another goal when he had to paw his bobbled ball off the line. Ramirez almost got his hat trick at the expense of Miller around the 70th minute, but the charging keeper was able to clear the ball before he was chipped.
Romario Ibarra entered the game to make his debut in the 77th minute, replacing Ramirez.
The energy of the match faded in the closing minutes as the Loons held out for a 5-1 final result.