Photo by Daniel Mick.


Minnesota Not Feeling California as United Loses 2-1 to Visiting LA Galaxy

by on 21 May 2017

The visiting LA Galaxy was able to take all three points against Minnesota United FC on a cold Sunday in Minneapolis. A beautiful goal by Giovani dos Santos put the Galaxy up in the first half. Christian Ramirez evened the score in the second half, but the Loons were undone by an own goal by the striker for the second week in a row.

It’s bitterly disappointing.
– Adrian Heath

The rain finally abated, but the weather remained as far away from Southern California as you could expect. Instead of the sun and blue sky of the last home game, the weather was overcast and cold. The “Galacticos” from California were definitely feeling Minnesota this season with only 11 points in their first 10 games. In the weather, on the turf, the visitors knew they would have to settle in deep and look for a break or for Minnesota to make a mistake.


Minnesota United FC came out in the same lineup for the third-straight game, easily its longest streak with the same starting XI. In front of the masked Bobby Shuttleworth was Francisco Calvo and Brent Kallman. Out wide in the back four were the aging Marc Burch and the Swiss Jérôme Thiesson.

The midfield pairing was again Ibson and Sam Cronin, with Kevin Molino the second forward. The rookie Abu Danladi again started on the right and Miguel Ibarra was out left. Ramirez started up top at striker, a spot he has not relinquished since the second game of the season.

First half

As it has been for the past four or five games, Ibson was the engine of the Loons’ possession and, once again, Minnesota looked to create its offense through the Brazilian. Every third pass went through the NASL-era holdover, as Minnesota controlled the pace of the game to start, rarely letting the Galaxy see the ball.

In the sixth minute, the turf at TCF Bank Stadium claimed a victim. Baggio Hušidić broke his leg trying to slide and was carried off the field. LA’ Galaxy’s head coach Curt Onalfo was forced to use his first sub in the eighth minute, sending in Rafael Garcia to replace the box-to-box midfielder.

Even after the short delay removing the injured player, Minnesota still was dominating possession in the early going. Sent down the right side by a through-ball, Danladi was tripped up by LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme, who ended up being the player who came up limping.

Minnesota saw that he was slowed, and sent a long ball to Theissen. The right back’s pass across the six-yard box almost took advantage of the center back’s hobbling, before LA’s captain fell to the turf and asked for treatment.

After Van Damme was up and walking normally again, Minnesota kept pressing, looking to break the early deadlock. On a counter after a Galaxy corner in the 24th minute, Ibson — again driving the offense — dribbled the ball forward and found an open teammate. Ibarra’s subsequent shot was palmed wide, giving Minnesota one of its 12 corners on the day.

On the ensuing corner, the ball had to be headed off the line by an LA Galaxy defender. The fans, chilled by the unseasonably cool weather, rose to their feet, sure that Minnesota was close.

Instead, the visiting Galaxy were able to stem the Loons’ attack. First, João Pedro had a shot from outside the box go off the crossbar. Moments later, another long shot — this time by Romain Alessandrini — was again just touched over by Shuttleworth.

You don’t get that many chances against good teams. And if you don’t take them, they invariably come back to hurt you.
– Adrian Heath

In the 38th minute, dos Santos was able to turn a cross from Alessandrini into a cheeky chip into the upper left corner of the net. A scattering of cheers from Mexican fans mingled with the boos as he and the rest of the Galaxy celebrated in the corner. Even down, Minnesota looked like a team with a goal in the game.

The turnaround started with an unfortunate injury to rookie Danladi. Johan Venegas came in the 42nd minute to replace him. The early substitution pushed Molino to the right and Venegas slotted in behind Ramirez.

Right away, the team looked reinvigorated, earning three corners in succession. With each, the roar from the crowd grew louder. On the final, Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe was able to grab the ball cleanly and lay on the ground until the fans had quieted down.

Even with four minutes of added time, Minnesota couldn’t find an equalizer before the break and made the long walk across the TCF turf to the locker rooms down one.

Second half

Could the home team find a way to regroup and figure out how to break down the surprisingly stable LA Galaxy defense?

After an early attempt on goal by the Galaxy, it would be all Minnesota for the first 30 minutes of the half. Ramirez had his first chance of many in the second half, as Rowe was drawn out of position. Ramirez’s shot was stopped only by a sliding save by Galaxy center back Daniel Steres.

Minutes later, Ramirez produced a dangerous header off a well-placed long ball from Molino. It was stopped by a combination of Rowe and the post.

And again the striker would get chance after chance. Ramirez took a shot from a very tight angle, and only Rowe’s fingertips prevented Ramirez from scoring.

The crowd were like sharks, smelling blood in the water. The chant of “M-N-U-F-C” roared around the lower bowl.

No one could escape the crowd’s ire as it became more desperate for an equalizer. Not Rowe, who got taunted after two kicks of his went straight out of bounds. Not the ref, who got serenaded with chants of “hand ball” after a corner was, in controversial fashion, instead awarded to Minnesota.

Finally, in the 66th minute, Ramirez found the back of the net. The chain of events began when Ibson was sent sprawling over the sideline. The resulting free kick was sent into the box by Theissen, before the ball was cleared only as far as Cronin. The midfeilder’s headed ball back into the box found Ramirez, whose seventh goal for the Loons evened the score.

The entire stadium rocked, the pent-up energy finally released with the goal. The Loons had evened it up, and looked likely to be the team to find the next goal.

I don’t think we defended the box as well as we can. I think we were a little bit sloppy.
– Adrian Heath

After that, the game stalled. Play became notbaly chippy by the 80th minute. Minnesota was trying to score the game winner without giving anything away on the counter. The Galaxy were trying to slow the game down and frustrate the hosts. The negative football lead to few chances for either side.

At least, until the 84th minute. A questionable foul outside the box gave the Galaxy a free kick in a dangerous spot. A beautiful ball sent into the box handcuffed Ramirez, and the ball bounced off his knee and into the back of the net for the striker’s second own goal in as many games.

Maybe if we had [another attacker] on the bench we would have thrown another one on, but at this time we haven’t got one, so that’s something that we’ll probably try to address in the next [transfer] window.
– Adrian Heath

The only substitution for Heath in the second half would be Ismaila Jome for Ibarra. Looking at the bench, it wasn’t hard to see why as there was no one else Heath favored for attacking roles. Danladi had gone out early in the game with a groin injury, and both Rasmus Schüller and Bashrim Kadrii have been dealing with nagging injuries. The Loons were chasing the game and yet there was no one to spell the midfield or attackers

Once again, Minnesota struggled to get off shots late in the game and the visitors were able to steal three points.

Three stars

Match statistics

Minnesota United FC 1 – LA Galaxy 2
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. (CDT)
Weather: 48°, Overcast and windy

Scoring Summary
Giovani dos Santos (38′)
Christian Ramirez (66′)
Christian Ramirez (84′, OG)

Jelle Van Damme (45’+2′ Unsporting Behavior)
Daniel Steres (73′ Extra flag to checker)
Miguel Ibarra (74′ Unsporting Behavior)
Romain Alessandrini (79′ Dissent)
Giovani dos Santos (90’+3′ Time wasting)

Community match ratings


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  • Chris RB

    Frustrating. Frustrating to dominate the game like that and lose. Frustrating to have no depth. Frustrating that these issues have been known for a long time and nothing was done to address them.

  • Scherbs

    Case study in: if you don’t take your chance, it will come back to haunt you.

    • Benjamin MacKenzie

      Here’s hoping the team resolves to not throw away their shot (and eventually we’ll see their ascendancy)

    • mnsportsgeek

      That 3 on 1 with Ibarra, Ramirez and Ibson needs to be a goal 10 times out of 10. That was the difference in the game.

  • Clark Starr

    What happened on Two Saint’s goal? Burch and Ibarra(?) were miles away from whomever it was who put the cross in. He had days to get into the box… Weird play. That last 20 minutes of the first half was not good, but the rest… sheesh… we were great.

    • Nate

      Have you been watching Burch thus far? He is always standing off his winger, letting the cross come in. I noticed it in the first game he played for us. It was only a matter of time before we got burned by it.

      • Clark Starr

        I think we got burned in the New England game from this a lot (though more on the right side). Burch does play off the winger, but on that particular play it was way way way off. Since we sit right over that side at the top of the penalty box arc, I watch the interplay between him and Ibarra–or whomever is the outside mid on the left–all half. I really can’t figure out if there’s a consistent plan between the two. On that play, they were both way way inside, almost at the middle of the field (if my recollection is right).

      • Chris RB

        He definitely needs to close down more. Could be a function of him not being the fastest guy around; more space gives him more time. Unfortunately, that’s a double-edged sword.

    • MmattN

      It appeared to me that LA was focused on building up on that side of the field with overlapping runs towards the middle to get the two out of position.

  • MmattN

    What was/is Heath’s thinking behind putting Danladi out right? Molino in the middle seems to result in him getting less time on the ball to create… I don’t know, maybe the problem with that line-up isn’t that Kevin is in the middle but more that Danladi seems to timid to move in and work with him in the middle. Felt the same even in the Toronto game.

  • Dave Williams

    I believe that was Ashley Cole who had the sliding stop on Ramirez’ shot.

  • Clark Starr

    I’ve got another beef with MNUFC: are we the worst throw-in defending team ever or just the worst in the MLS? I can’t remember how many times I see guys kind of zone out on their marking and not make things tough. Drives me bonkers.

  • almontanello

    MNUFC was a victim of the not written cruel law of soccer.
    The best team or the team that plays better does not necessarily win.
    On the contrary if you have more shots but you miss too many opportunities to score you are punished and you are going to loose the game.

    MNUFC players have to be cruel and nasty like the sport requires and finalize the own chances.

    Moreover 2 or 3 very good players have to be signed to keep alive the little hopes of playoffs.

  • Vinyl Haircut

    I don’t really feel bad about the game at all. It’s a natural progression for youth teams, high school teams, college teams, or pro teams: you’ve just gotta play in a lot of close games before you learn how to win them consistently, even if you’re theoretically outplaying the opponent. It can be frustrating at this stage because it may seem like bad bounces, bad calls, so-close chances, etc. But good teams manage to somehow overcome all those things and win more often than not. It’ll come. Frankly, I’m just happy to be in this position, where it seems like we’re playing well enough to win. I was anticipating that, this early on, we might not even be competitive very often.

    • Eric Beckman

      I feel this, too.
      Also, the Galaxy DPs made the difference: do Santos wonder volley, Alessandrini’s delivery on their second, and van Damme’s flick of that ball and immovability in box on the all of the corners. Since I think not starting with DPs makes sense, these types of games will happen. The key, for me, is developing players and playing competitively.

      • Vinyl Haircut

        Exactly. Developing players is more important this year than getting wins. I feel the same way about experimenting with young players in different positions (see: Danladi inside or outside). We’ll suffer from their mistakes this year, but it should pay off long-term.