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Defensive Miscues Down Minnesota

by on 10 May 2018

Defensive miscues were again the theme of the night as Minnesota couldn’t keep its winning streak alive, losing 2-0 away to LAFC. Goals from Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye spelled doom for the Loons on the road.

Lineups

Adrian Heath chose to send out a lineup with important changes from the win on Saturday. Changing formation to a 4-3-3, the middle of the field saw the bulk of the moves. Harrison Heath and Maximiano made their Minnesota debuts alongside Collin Martin, who made his second appearance this year, after making his first on Saturday. The defense saw one change, as Carter Manley started in place of Eric Miller. Manley lined up opposite Jérôme Thiesson with Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo in the middle. Without a fully fit striker, Heath chose to start Darwin Quintero up top, flanked by Alexi Gomez and the red-hot Miguel Ibarra. Bobby Shuttleworth looked to continue his purple patch of form in goal for the Loons.

First half

Early in the game, both teams had dangerous chances. Diego Rossi was played through by Carlos Vela. Rossi lifted the ball over Shuttleworth but saw his shot hit the post. Not more than a minute later, Quintero danced at the top of the box and caused Laurent Ciman and Steven Beitashour to collide. With the space he created, Quintero rattled the post.

Even though Minnesota had a dangerous chance early, LAFC held a lion’s share of the game. The Loons were content sitting back and absorbing pressure and looking to break on the counterattack.

LAFC earned a free kick just outside the box on the wing after Vela was fouled by Calvo after the Mexican international sent in a cross. Calvo was given a yellow card. Luckily for Minnesota, Ciman headed the ball over off the free kick.

Minnesota had its second best chance of the game on a free kick delivered into the box by Quintero. Calvo connected with the cross but put the ball over.

Eduard Atuesta broke the deadlock in the 31st minute. Vela crossed the ball low into the box. Calvo went for the interception and missed, Atuesta made no mistake and buried the ball into the back of the net.

After the goal, Martin and Alexi Gomez received yellow cards for fouls on Blessing and Vela respectively.

Mark-Anthony Kaye doubled the lead for LAFC in the 37th minute. A Diego Ross shot was deflected by Thiesson and high into the box. Blessing headed the ball over Calvo and to a wide open Kaye. Kaye scored his first MLS goal since coming over from USL side Louisville City SC in the offseason.

Minutes later Atuesta received a yellow card for a foul on Quintero.

Near the end of the first half, a brilliant ball from Quintero found Ibarra streaking in on goal. Ibarra took the ball around Tyler Miller, but his shot was cleared off the line by Walker Zimmerman.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added but were uneventful. The Loons walked into the locker room down two due to defensive lapses (stop me if you’ve heard that one before). Although the defensive side was lacking, there were some quality chances created by the Loons, mostly through Quintero and Ibarra. If Minnesota wanted to get back into the match, they would need more players going forward while shoring up the back line at the same time.

Second half

After halftime Adrian Heath signaled a change in formation for the Loons. He moved to a 4-2-3-1 with Martin moving up to give support to Quintero who was often stranded in the first half.

The formation change didn’t seem to do much to add to the attack or shore up the defense. LAFC still controlled the game early in the second half and if it was not for two key saves from Shuttleworth all could have been lost for Minnesota. In attack, the Loons had trouble breaking down the LAFC defense, but when they did, the final killer ball was not found.

Maximiano committed a foul on a LAFC counterattack, but advantage was given by the referee. Once the ball was played out a couple minutes later, he received his first yellow card in MLS. With two-thirds of the midfield carrying yellows, Heath made his first sub of the game bringing on Schüller for Maximiano. During the same break in the action, Bob Bradley made the first change for LAFC bringing on Omar Gaber for Jordan Harvey.

Frantz Pangop was subbed into the game for Collin Martin, making his first appearance since the away loss to New York Red Bulls. He would move to the left wing, pushing Gomez to the middle of the attacking midfield. Kaye would later come off after taking a knock; Lee Nguyen would replace him.

Harrison Heath earned a yellow card for a hard tackle on Blessing; Calum Mallace would come on as the last change for LAFC, replacing Atuesta.

The second half was effectively killed off by LAFC, and the Loons headed home with zero points. Two defensive mistakes were the downfall again for Minnesota. The formation change at halftime didn’t allow any goals, but that was more due to Shuttleworth making saves and missed shots from LAFC attackers. Just like in the first half the attack was lacking a final ball.

There is a silver lining though, Loon’s faithful—no players went off with injury and the rotated side wasn’t played off the pitch. This result is not surprising as injuries and suspensions handcuffed what Minnesota could do on the pitch. Looking forward, the home game against a free-falling San Jose is a better opportunity to push for points.

Three stars

Scoring summary

15′ MNUFC YC – Francisco Calvo

31′ LAFC GOAL – Eduard Atuesta

33′ MNUFC YC – Collin Martin

34′ MNUFC YC – Alexi Gomez

37′ LAFC GOAL – Mark-Anthony Kaye

40′ LAFC YC – Eduard Atuesta

62′ MNUFC YC – Maximiano

90′ MNUFC YC – Harrison Heath


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