Match Preview: MNUFC @ LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy forward Joseph Paintsil (28) and Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall (15) during the match at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn., on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Today is the day – Late-Night Loons. Again.

Minnesota United FC flies into Los Angeles on a five-match losing streak after being bumped down to 10th by Vancouver on Wednesday night. They will face a Greg Vanney side that has won five in a row to move up to 3rd place. The Loons showed a decent offensive spark in that match but couldn’t dial in the finishing touch to make the most of their opportunities. If you can’t score more than one goal, you have to not hand out goals to your opponent. Defensive miscues added yet another demon they’ll need to slay on the road – against a Galaxy squad that loves to score through the midfield.

Form (W-L-D)

MIN: 10th in West (29 pts.), 8-8-5 (4-5-1 away). GF 34 / GA 35 (GD -1). Last 5 matches: L-L-L-L-L

LA: 3rd in West (40 pts.), 11-4-7 (6-1-3 at home). GF 42 / GA 29 (GD +13). Last 5 matches: L-W-W-W-W.

Head-to-head: MNUFC trails 3-6-5. Last meeting: May 15 at Allianz Field, 2-2 draw. (Minnesota led with 25 shots to LA’s 5 but poor finishing forced GK John McCarthy to make only 3 saves and held the Loons to only 2 goals.)

Notes: LA Galaxy is 9-1-3 when scoring first but 2-3-3 when conceding first. Minnesota United is 6-1-3 when scoring first, 2-7-2 when conceding first.


MIN // Out: H. Bacharach (knee), C. Irwin (leg), W. Trapp (leg), T. Oluwaseyi (intl duty), D. St. Clair (intl duty). Questionable: None.

LA // Out: G. Brugman (knee), J. Aude (groin); Questionable: J. Perez (hamstring)

Notes: Joseph Paintsil is one yellow card away from suspension.

International break bends the lineup

With Canada’s shootout victory over Venezuela on Friday night, Dayne St. Clair and Tani Oluwaseyi have extended their Copa America duties. With DSC away and back-up Clint Irwin injured, Minnesota called up MNUFC2 keeper Oscar Herrera on a short-term agreement on Wednesday to serve as a backup to the backup [Smir] to the backup [Irwin] in goal. On Sunday, Francesco Montali will play the supporting role.

Head coach Eric Ramsay is certain that his squad will see a quick turn-around in results once the Canadians return and others get back to match fitness:

“I am trying to balance the fact that we have to be critical, we have to look at ourselves, we have to push. I have to be critical, but I can’t be too frustrated given our situation, because there is a very quick fix just around the corner in that sense. We will welcome Teemu [Pukki] and Tani [Oluwaseyi] back when the time comes and of course we will push Bongi [Hlongwane] and Sang Bin [Jeong] and the players around those guys to really improve in front of goal. That is our job and I’m sure those players would say that too.” – Eric Ramsay, following Wednesday’s loss

Alejandro Bran (Costa Rica) returned in time for Wednesday’s match. Following Panama’s loss to Columbia on Saturday, Carlos Harvey should be back with the squad in time for the next match but the Loons will have to do without him on Sunday night.

Key Players

Goals change games…

Dejan Joveljic leads the Galaxy with 12 goals and 5 assists in 20 appearances (42 shots, 26 SOG). It was Joveljic who scored the Galaxy’s first goal against United in the 2-2 draw at Allianz Field in May.  Riqui Puig has 7 goals and 8 assists (67 shots, 30 SOG) on the season.

The Loons’ leading scorer, Tani Oluwaseyi (7 goals, 4 assists), is still away, but Bongokuhle Hlongwane (6 goals, 4 assists) seemed to inherit the former’s work rate and momentum against Vancouver on Wednesday. It resulted in only one goal but if he’s dialed in on Sunday, Hlongwane could tear up the Galaxy’s back line. Robin Lod is Minnesota’s Riqui Puig but was near invisible on Wednesday. If he can settle in to a Wil Trapp-less midfield and switch back on, the Finn could be a big threat. Another threat to LA Galaxy is Teemu Pukki but, as his minutes have been tempered by knee rehab, it is unlikely that he will see minutes, let alone extend his scoring streak against the Galaxy. (He has 5 goals and 1 assist in 3 appearances against the Galaxy.)

…but defense makes them count

In 2024, Galaxy keeper John McCarthy has not had to face more than 9 shots in a single match this season. A big key piece of the defensive spine in front of McCarthy has been midfielder Mark Delgado. In the Galaxy’s last match against LAFC (2-1 loss), Delgado won 7 of 13 duels and 6 possessions.

Minnesota centerback Michael Boxall will be looking for a redemption shift after his poor clearance resulted in Vancouver’s opening goal on Wednesday, especially with Alec Smir remaining in goal.

“With Alec [Smir] in goal, [I] just kind of missed one that he could hit first time. At this point you don’t need to be overthinking, just do the simple shit right. I feel for Alec because it’s his debut, he’s really done nothing wrong tonight. He works hard at training every day and deserves this opportunity and for me to start off like that… Yeah, I feel for him.” – Michael Boxall, following Wednesday’s loss

Like Vancouver, the Galaxy will certainly send tough shots at Alec Smir but defense starts up top. DJ Taylor, Hassani Dotson, Joseph Rosales, and Alejandro Bran, all need to step it up without giving in to the heat of the moment.

The Match

The match kicks off at 9:30 PM CT (actual 9:39 PM CT) on MLS Season Pass. Put on another pot of coffee and follow us for updates on the action.

Remember to breathe.

Minnesota United head coach Eric Ramsay looks on during the match against the LA Galaxy at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn., on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)