The first true test for Minnesota United came late Saturday night in a 3-2 loss to the LA Galaxy. Minnesota looked quite tired in the first moments of the game and ended the first half two goals down. Defensive struggles were apparent across the field, but some things went well too. Here are five things we learned from the late night loss:
Rasmus Schuller might not be a winger
The Finnish midfielder looked slow and largely uninvolved in possession. Schuller had 32 touches, which was the third least among Minnesota starters, and hardly contributed to the attack. Schuller looked like he did not quite know how to be involved, almost being isolated out wide where a winger would be, but not being a natural winger himself. His inverted winger role placed more central defensive responsibility on him, yet he was being isolated near the touchline by Carlos Antuna and Dos Santos. Based on Saturday, Schuller is not a winger and is not fast enough to defend 1v1 wide — which is something teams will take advantage of.
Vito Mannone has great hands
Vito was tested early and often by the Galaxy, and Mannone showed that he has the experience and skill his resume suggests. Mannone collected the ball extremely cleanly throughout the match, almost never giving rebounds for lurking strikers. Vito kept his box clean as well, punching crosses out and taking control of the penalty box.
The team’s shape created unwanted gaps
Looking back at the game, United’s spacing looks increasingly strange. In defense, Darwin and Romario would sometimes attempt to high press, but the midfield and defense would not follow, creating cavernous spaces for Galaxy midfielders to pass into. The same issue occurred on the attack; Romario and Quintero were so far forward that when they received the ball they had no support and were left to dribble by themselves. It was hard to tell what the formation was trying to accomplish, leaving huge gaps in the midfield that were detrimental to both the attack and defense.
Abu Danladi looks good
Danladi came on in the 73rd minute and made an instant impact. His speed energized the Loons’ attack and created real scoring chances. Danladi’s header created Angelo’s goal, and he could have had his own when he missed high with his left foot. It will be hard for Danladi to pick up a lot of minutes if he plays right winger, especially with the potential return of Kevin Molino. Forward is his more likely position to get minutes, and hopefully he can pick up some time in that position soon.
Angelo Rodriguez is a strong hold up forward
Regardless of his goal, which was not fantastic by itself, Angelo played well against LA. Rodriguez’s ability to check back into the midfield creates space for players like Quintero. Angelo consistently came back into the midfield, received the ball, then laid it off — something that creates more movement for players off the ball, which has been desperately needed for Minnesota.
Have other thoughts on the match? What can United take away from the loss to LA? Let us know in the comments section below!