Los Angeles FC-United FC Preview

National Sports

Los Angeles FC head coach Bob Bradley expressed his pride in his side’s never-give-up attitude ahead of Saturday’s visit to Minnesota United.

Los Angeles is only three points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps, who occupy the final playoff spot, after Cristian Arango’s hat-trick guided the visitors past FC Dallas on Wednesday.

Indeed, LAFC is now on the back of consecutive victories and Bradley let his pleasure be known with his team’s most recent victory, which paints a bigger picture of the squad’s attitude and willingness to win.

“Tonight’s about not giving up,” Bradley said after defeating Dallas. “We just keep pushing the game, keep going for the next play and I’m really happy for the group. The ability to win a game like that, especially at this time of year, is really important and the guys gave everything.

“If you win a game when you come from behind, no one needs to talk about a mistake or two. We understand that and collectively I thought we did really well to push on.”

Minnesota sits in sixth and could open up a five-point gap between it and Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference standings.

The hosts have also recorded back-to-back triumphs following a 3-2 win over Philadelphia Union, and head coach Adrian Heath has been delighted with his side’s progress.

“I’m so pleased for the players because the doom and gloom that was about here after we got beat by Colorado,” Heath said. “You would have thought that the season was over. And, that’s not just externally, that was internally as well. It’s just a reminder that it’s never over. As soon as you’ve got games, you can change the narrative. And that’s what the players have done in the last two games.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso

Reynoso sparked a Western Conference Final appearance in 2020 with two goals and 14 assists across 16 combined regular-season and playoff games. This season he sits second in MLS in key passes (77) – only behind New England’s Carles Gil.

Los Angeles FC – Cristian Arango

Arango’s trio of goals last time out gives him 11 in just 13 MLS games as he continues to make a strong case for MLS Newcomer of the Year honours.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– After Los Angeles won the first meeting between the sides, 2-0, in May 2018, Minnesota is unbeaten in the last four contests (W2 D2). Only two teams (Portland from October 2020 to present and LA Galaxy from March 2018 to August 2019) have gone five straight matches against LAFC without defeat.

– Minnesota United has won consecutive matches for the fifth time this season, though the Loons have failed to turn any of those into three-match streaks. The last time Minnesota United won three straight regular season matches was the opening three games of the 2020 season.

– Los Angeles FC recorded its first come-from-behind win of the season on Wednesday, beating FC Dallas 3-2 after trailing 1-0 and 2-1. In its first three MLS seasons, LAFC had recorded 11 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, most in MLS from 2018 to 2020.

– Franco Fragapane had a goal and an assist in Minnesota United’s win over the Union on Wednesday, his third straight game with at least one goal contribution. This is the third time Fragapane has contributed to a goal in three straight matches since joining MLS in June, doing so in four straight in June-July and three straight in September along with his three-game streak in October.

– Cristian Arango scored all three goals for LAFC in its 3-2 win over Dallas on Wednesday, the sixth hat-trick in Los Angeles FC’s MLS history (including playoffs). Arango is the fourth different LAFC player to net a hat-trick in MLS (Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Adama Diomande).

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