Match Preview: MNUFC vs. LAFC

Minnesota United Head Coach Eric Ramsay and Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Khaled El-Ahmad at an MNUFC press event on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Michael Lake / Lake Photography)

Welcome to the MLS Cup Finalist Jungle: MNUFC continues its home stand

At the home opener, Minnesota United FC battled last year’s MLS Cup winners Columbus Crew to a 1-1 draw. This Saturday at 7:30 pm they welcome last year’s MLS Cup runners-up, Los Angeles FC.

MIN - LAFCPoints: 7-4 MLS Position: 2nd West - 8th West Goals Scored: 6-2 Goals Against: 4-4 Assists: 8-2 Shots: 38-40 Shots on Goal: 19-19 Fouls Conceded: 45-31 Fouls Suffered: 24-54 Offsides: 8-2 Corner Kicks: 25-14 PK Scored: 0-0 Pk Attempts: 0-0 Clean Sheets: 0-1
Side-by-side comparison of MNUFC and LAFC 2024 statistics in league play (IMage courtesy: MN United FC)

Form — Appetite for Production

MIN: 2nd in West (7 pts), 2 W, 0 L, 1 D, GD +2

LAFC: 8th in West (4 pts), 1 W, 1 L, 1 D, GD -2

The Loons have an appetite for wins, especially at Allianz Field. In 2023, the Loons’ home record was 4 wins, 4 loses, and 9 draws. This will be new head coach Eric Ramsay’s first game on the sideline. He will be hungry for three points to start his head coaching career. After his first week of training, he gauged the players as having “Real energy and enthusiasm — they are definitely riding the crest of the wave of the first three games, and we’re just trying to make sure that that continues.”

While head coach Steve Cherundolo and LAFC are hungry to get back to another deep playoff run, they are also hungry for goals and wins. After LAFC beat Seattle at their home opener, the Black-and-Gold have a loss and a draw with zero goals scored in two matches. Loons midfielder Hassani Dotson doesn’t assume too much: “Even though they [LAFC]  had a bit of a slow start, we know the quality players they have and the threat they can have towards their opposition.”

Image of The Western Conference Table here (NOTE this will change after results March 16, 2024):
Western Conference Standings as of March 15, 2024 (Image courtesy: MLS)

Yesterdays: Past Series Records — MNUFC (W-L-D)

The last time Minnesota played LAFC was October at BMO Stadium. It did not go well for the Loons. Dynamic attacker Denis Bouanga scored a hat trick, and Miguel Tapias had an own goal. I asked Dayne St. Clair if he had any words for Bouanga. He replied with smile, “Don’t play as good as last time.”

Kyndra de St. Aubin and Eric Durkee listen to Dayne St. Clair (Image courtesy: Matthew Johnson)

The four times Allianz Field has hosted the newer LA side have all resulted in 1-1 draws. While neither Raheem Edwards nor Tyler Miller play for either side currently, these teams historically have delivered close, tense games. The 5-1 LAFC win last year and the 5-1 MNUFC win in 2018 are outliers.

Overall: 2-3-5 (14 GF, 16 GA)

Home: 1-0-4 (9 GF, 5 GA)

Away: 1-3-1 (5 GF, 11 GA)

Reckless Life and Nice Boys — or Roster Availability

Minnesota United train on Friday while the Practice Field sprinklers go off. (Image courtsey: Matthew Johnson)

MIN: Out: Joseph Rosales (red card suspension), Questionable: None

LAFC: Out: Lorenzo Dellavalle (knee), Questionable: Tomás Ángel (adductor)

“It’s good to get all the players available. We have a good group of guys and a lot of quality. So it’s good for the competition [for minutes] as well. Everybody has to be on their toes. I’m waiting for them to be fully fit and fight for the spots.” — Robin Lod

Sweet Child O’ Mine: Insights from the Youngest MLS Coach

This is the first week Eric Ramsay has lead MNUFC training. My first impressions of Ramsay at open training Tuesday: vocal, collaborative, and prefers his human whistle to a metal one. He and Chief Soccer Officer/Sporting Director Khaled El-Ahmad made a media appearance on Wednesday. At training on Friday, Ramsay answered a question on what type of coach he will be on the sideline:

“If you watch me coach over the course of a week, I’m a very active coach on the grass. I’m in the sessions, and I’m working with the players [in groups] and working with individuals. And that will probably extend out on the pitch, I imagine — but who knows.”

Patience: Rosters


For the 2024 up-tempo Minnesota United, this is the first time Emmanuel Reynoso and the second time Franco Fragapane will be available for game day.

“[Reynoso has] trained well. I’ve had a couple of really good conversations with him, and I’m really looking forward to working with him and seeing up-close … one of the most exciting players to watch in the league.” — Eric Ramsay

Ramsay confirmed both Robin Lod (started against Orlando) and Bongokuhle Hlongwane (debuted off the bench last week) are available. DJ Taylor, who was favoring one leg when subbed out, has been training fully, and Ramsay said he is “good to go.” This makes the Rosales red card the only scratch for the senior side. Will Devon Padelford or Zarek Valentin or someone new start at left fullback?

When it came to questions about lineup changes, Eric Ramsay asks fans and media to be patient: “That will be for you to see tomorrow, but obviously the team is doing well. So I can guarantee you there’s not going to be wholesale changes … you can expect something similar.”


Since last October, Los Angeles Football Club has changed their roster significantly. Carlos Vela? Gone, he’s a free agent. Kellyn Acosta? He’s with the Chicago Fire. Dynamic fullback Diego Palacios? He signed with Corinthians in Brazil. Veteran Giorgio Chiellini? He retired. The goalkeeping trio of Maxime Crépeau, John McCarthy, and Eldin Jakupović? All of them are gone.

Starting Lineups from October 4, 2023 at BMO Stadium (Image courtesy: Flashscore)

Who did they pick up? The big splash was former Tottenham Hotspur and Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. They also loaned in midfielder Eduard Atuesta, who used to play for LAFC before being sold to Palmeiras. “It was the best decision of my life at that moment to choose LAFC,” the Colombian said of his return. “The sense of belonging that I have here is very special.”

Four of the other new players are 18-21 years old, and two have received minutes already. Fullback Omar Campos has been starting. 18-year-old forward David Mart̨ínez got his first MLS minutes subbed on late against Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City last week.

Most impressively, LAFC returned many starters from defenders like Ryan Hollingshead and Aaron Long to attacking players like Mateusz Bogusz and Cristian Olivera. The 2023 MLS Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga should not be overlooked, and he won’t be by either coach.

“I’ve made this point repeatedly this week about wanting to to be a team that isn’t solely focused on the opposition…. If you skew too far that way over the course of the 50 games, you’re going to be 50 different versions of yourselves — where we want to be really solid around what we do, our principles. And we want to then have a solid 20 [or] 10% focus on what the opposition do.” — Eric Ramsay

Tani Oluwaseyi looks on as Hassani Dotson laughs at DJ Taylor trying to get Doston to help with a stretch. (Image courtesy: Matthew Johnson)

Live and Let Fly

Six Loons have been called up for International Duty: Michael Boxall (New Zealand), Robin Lod and Teemu Pukki (Finland), Joseph Rosales (Honduras), Dayne St. Clair (Canada), and Alejandro Bran (Costa Rica). They will depart from Minnesota after the LAFC game.

They will miss the international friendly Wednesday against St. Patrick’s Athletic. All will be done with international duty by March 26, in time to train for MNUFC’s next MLS match. Travel, a compressed schedule, and midweek games can take a toll. Who will make the March 30 trip Philadelphia Union? Only time will tell. As Paul McCartney originally sang, “What does it matter to ya? / When you got a job to do / You got to do it well.”

You Could Be Mine, Allianz Field

New head coach Eric Ramsay called the stadium “absolutely phenomenal.” He continued, “Everything you read and see does not do justice how impactful it is when you get there, like there’s detail everywhere. My wife and I, we had dinner with Bill [McGuire] on our first day here, and he talked through his vision for it prior to it being built and all the detail that sits behind it. And then [he said] you’ll be blown away when you see it person.”

Colors of the aurora borealis light up Allianz Field during Minnesota United’s Northern Lights kit revel event in Saint Paul, Minn., on Friday, February 17, 2023.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

When Jerry Zgoda (Star Tribune) asked Ramsay if he were an Oasis fan, the former Manchester United assistant harked back to his days at Loughborough University. “When we won the British university championship with my team, that [Wonderwall] was also the song that was sung after [matches], and as the night went on, ten more times.”

Allianz Field may not be Paradise City, but the grass is green and the goals are pretty. If you live the in the Twin Cities metro area, it isn’t even so far away. Will Reynoso start? How will the Loons defend the potent LAFC attack? Will we get the first home “Wonderwall” singing of 2024? Stay with Northland Soccer Journal. We’ll be at Allianz Field tonight. Will you?


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