The LA Galaxy posted a confidence-boosting win over Minnesota United FC on Saturday, March 16, thanks to a commendable team effort and a strong showing by Mexican national Uriel Antuna.
The Galaxy dominated the first half, outshooting the Loons by nearly 3 to 1, with multiple chances created by Jonathan dos Santos (c), Chris Pontius, and Sebastian Lletget. The steady barrage eventually led to their first point at the 36-minute mark, when Galaxy striker Antuna was clipped by MUFC’s Ozzie Alonso in the box. The awarded PK was swiftly finished by dos Santos, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.
Galaxy followed this up just minutes later with a 25-pass build-up, that culminated with a through-ball from winger Emmanuel Boateng to Rolf Feltscher, who crossed it in for a Pontius “chest-in,” bringing the score to 2-0 going into the second half.
Galaxy’s control over the pace and play of the game was momentarily jolted during the second half when keeper David Bingham let a far-range shot from Jan Gregus slip through his grip. Not to be deterred, Galaxy responded with some strong efforts on goal from Pontius and Polenta; as Antuna took on and defeated MUFC’s outside back one-on-one for what seemed like the umpteenth time this match, his cross at the 80-minute mark found Lletget who found the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
MUFC sub Abu Danladi gave Galaxy some trouble late in the game, poking holes in the backline. When Galaxy LB Jorgen Skjelvik gets picked off by Romain Métanire in the 87th minute, it’s Danladi with the header that sets up teammate Angelo Rodríguez for Minnesota’s second goal.
Despite some late-minute hiccups, Galaxy gave arguably their best performance of the season under new head coach and Boca Juniors legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto. With Zlatan out for at least another week due to an Achilles injury, Schelotto addressed pre-match concerns about the star’s absence and Antuna’s ability to fill in the attacking gap, stating that the 21-year-old (who is currently on loan for the season from Man City) simply needed time on the pitch to make mistakes and gain experience. Antuna’s sharp performance throughout the match, drawing multiple fouls and creating two of Galaxy’s three points will no doubt help calm such fears and give Galaxy momentum heading into their next game.
LA Galaxy next play Portland Timbers, March 31, at Dignity Health Sports Park.