The LA Galaxy (3-5-2) will play the second game of their four-game road trip on Sunday when they take on expansion side Minnesota United FC (3-6-2). The Galaxy are coming off a domineering victory over the New York Red Bulls; a game that saw the team put together their first 90-minute performance of the season behind two goals from Romain Alessandrini, and a goal and an assist from Giovani dos Santos.
Game Info: 2 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, May 21, 2017
TV Info: ESPN
But with MNUFC, a team the Galaxy have never faced – in a stadium they’ve never played – things are much different.
Minnesota is coming off a hard-fought loss in Toronto that saw them fall just short in a 3-2 loss. And despite their rough start – they allowed 18 goals through their first four games – they’ve since stabilized and been a much more competitive side. They’ve allowed just 10 goals in their last seven games and picked up all three of their wins in that time span as well.
That newfound fight, sees them tied with the Galaxy on points (11 pts), having played one more game this season (11 games). They’re currently in eighth place in the Western Conference with the Galaxy in seventh. Both teams sit just two points from the Vancouver Whitecaps (13 pts) and a much-coveted playoff spot.
United’s leading scorer is 26-year old Christian Ramirez. Ramirez has six goals and one assist having played in all of their games this season. Add Kevin Molino to the list – five goals and three assists in 10 games – and you can understand why the ball is always traveling toward the net.
For the Galaxy, they travel the three and half hours by air, to TFC Bank Stadium. The 2017 and temporary home of their opponents.
The Galaxy have a road record of 2-2-0 this year and have twice as many wins on the road as they do at home. This despite playing six of their first 10 games at StubHub center this year.
There were encouraging signs from the Galaxy’s last win. Dos Santos and Alessandrini were lively – both producing scoring chances and converting those chances into goals. Jelle Van Damme, benched by head coach Curt Onalfo in the previous game, had his best performance of the year and even earned MLS Team of the Week for his performance. The Galaxy played cohesively despite, or perhaps because of, the absence the injured Jermaine Jones (MCL Sprain).
The Galaxy will be without Jones, Sebastian Lletget (Lisfranc Injury), and Bradley Diallo (Red Card Suspension).
Nathan Smith is expected to pick up the right back role in place of Diallo, and Baggio Husidic is expected to reprise his role, alongside João Pedro in the midfield. The rest of the defense and offense should remain the same unless Onalfo sees some other reason to change things up.
The Galaxy, with their win last weekend, have now drawn equal on points through 10 games with both 2009 and 2012. So the worst start in 10 years that occurred through nine games has a more optimistic outlook. Although the Galaxy are by no means in any position to get cocky.
Before the road trip started, the Galaxy were given little chance of escaping it with more than a point. Although some, more optimistic, saw four points as a reasonable hall. With three points already earned, and perhaps the Galaxy’s most winnable game this weekend, the total points the Galaxy could collect has many reconsidering that view.
United is a completely different team than the side that gave up all those goals and looked ill prepared for their transition into Major League Soccer. They’ve improved to the point that the Galaxy should be happy with a point from this game. And it would continue to set them up for the last two games of the road trip.