With seven games remaining, Los Angeles Football Club might need to manufacture some urgency as Minnesota United visits Sunday looking to rebound from a narrow defeat in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final.
In their last game, LAFC (19-3-5, 62 points) came back from two goals down to earn a 3-3 draw against the rival LA Galaxy, and they remain on pace to shatter the record for most points earned in a 34-game season. That mark fell only last year, when the New York Red Bulls earned 71 points en route to the 2018 Supporters’ Shield.
Even more immediate, coach Bob Bradley’s side is one win from clinching the top playoff seed in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the teams who are second through seventh in the West entered the weekend with only three points between them. That includes Minnesota (12-9-6, 42 points), which began the weekend in fifth.
“End of the year, you always understand what teams are fighting for, and it’s our responsibility to keep playing at a high level,” Bradley said. “We want to win games, we want to take the points and put ourselves in the best position going into the playoffs.”
Minnesota heads west after the disappointment of a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United on Tuesday night in both teams’ first Open Cup final appearance.
Finnish international Robin Lod scored his first Minnesota goal since his arrival earlier in August, and the Loons had several opportunities late to tie the match.
Having nearly matched the impressive, Eastern Conference-leading trio of Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, coach Adrian Heath now has to figure out how to stop MLS-leading scorer Carlos Vela (27 goals), Diego Rossi (14) and Adama Diomande (eight). Those three have combined for more goals than 22 of 23 other MLS teams.
Minnesota’s own top scorer, Darwin Quintero, has eight goals and has been used off the subs’ bench in three of his last five games, including the Open Cup final.
“You don’t want to beat yourself,” Heath said. “Don’t give them opportunities in your own defensive third by trying to play out when they’ve got too many bodies around the box, too many people pressing the ball. And you take your opportunities if and when they come.”
—Field Level Media