MLS

Los Angeles FC v Minnesota United: Long aiming to build on LAFC's growing momentum

By Sports Desk May 28, 2024

Defender Aaron Long has praised Los Angeles FC's recent defensive strength as they prepare to welcome Minnesota United to BMO Stadium on Wednesday.

LAFC have won their last four in all competitions without conceding a goal, with Saturday's 1-0 victory over Atlanta United their 100th MLS regular-season win.  

They currently sit fourth in the Western Conference with 24 points and can leapfrog opponents Minnesota United if they continue their winning streak.

"We touched on it a little bit earlier in the year when I was asked about giving up a lot of goals in a lot of weird ways," said Long.

"We pride ourselves on being a good defensive team with a good structure and getting 11 guys behind the ball and working hard.

"More than anything, I think we have strikers, forwards and midfielders who can score a lot of goals. If we can hold zeros, we can win a lot of games. We held four zeros in a row, four wins, so let's try and keep the ball rolling."

When asked about reaching the milestone of their 100th win last Saturday, Long added: "To be the fastest to 100 or tied as the fastest to 100, is a huge, monumental step. I think it's something that the club should be proud of."

Meanwhile, Minnesota are second in the table, just four points behind leaders Real Salt Lake City after a 3-3 draw with Colorado Rapids last weekend.

They have not lost any of their last seven matches, and forward, Tani Oluwaseyi is looking forward to facing off against a tough opponent.

He said: "You always want to face the great teams and LAFC is a marquee team with a lot of really good players, really big players. Hopefully, we can put a great game plan together to go into that game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LAFC – Mateusz Bogusz

Bogusz scored LAFC's lone goal in their win in Atlanta on Saturday. Only four players have scored Los Angeles FC's 15 goals since the beginning of April (excluding own goals): Denis Bouanga (six), Mateusz Bogusz (four), Cristian Olivera (three) and Timothy Tillman (two).

Minnesota – Tani Oluwaseyi

Oluwaseyi scored the second of Minnesota’s three goals on Saturday at Colorado, scoring for the third-straight MLS road game. Oluwaseyi is the second Minnesota player to score in three straight regular-season away matches after Franco Fragapane did so in June-July 2022.

MATCH PREDICTION: LOS ANGELES FC WIN

LAFC have won five straight matches in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in the last four. This equals their second-longest all-competition winning streak (seven straight in 2022) while it's the second time LAFC have kept clean sheets in four straight matches (April 2023).

Meanwhile, Minnesota are unbeaten in six straight matches following a 3-3 draw at Colorado on Saturday (W4 D2). The Loons have scored multiple goals in all six games during that run.

Indeed, Minnesota ended a seven-match winless run against LAFC with a 2-0 home victory on March 16. Each team has won three times against the other with five of the 11 meetings ending in draws.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

LAFC – 51.5%

Draw – 25.3%

Minnesota – 23.2%

Related items

  • Chile v Argentina: Messi ready to build on important win against competitive La Roja Chile v Argentina: Messi ready to build on important win against competitive La Roja

    Lionel Messi expects a difficult test against Chile as Argentina look to maintain their unbeaten start at the 2024 Copa America. 

    Argentina play their penultimate Group A match at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Wednesday against La Roja, having beaten Canada on matchday 1. 

    The Albiceleste impressed in their opener against the Canucks, registering 19 shots on goal, surpassing the combined total of 18 shots taken by Chile and Peru in the other Group A meeting.

    Messi, who broke the Copa America appearance record during that match, expressed the importance of their victory in the opening game but knows his side are in for a competitive encounter with Ricardo Gareca's side. 

    “Yeah, we've always known how tough the opening game is. The most important thing is to get off to a winning start," Messi said. 

    “It's not happened previously under [Lionel] Scaloni, so that calms things down because you suffer a lot when you start off losing.

    “But we always play the same way. We're in a difficult group, and now we have to face a very good and competitive team.

    “Ricardo Gareca's arrival has given them something else as well.

    “So yeah, we're happy to have started with a win, but we're now going to rest and prepare for Chile.

    “We know that we have to be a team and achieve our goals in the right way.

    “We know that the only path to do so is in our own way. So we will continue with the same humility and desire to win.”

    Meanwhile, Chile will be hopeful of improving their recent record against Argentina, having failed to beat their opponents since the Copa America final in June 2016, though they needed penalties to get the victory on that occasion.

    La Roja kickstarted their Copa America campaign with a goalless draw against Peru at the AT&T Stadium in Texas, managing to register just one shot on target from the 11 they attempted - the joint-fewest the Blanquirroja have faced in the competition since the debut of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese in the competition (2015).

    Gareca's side have failed to score in their last three games in the Copa America, a run of 378 minutes without a goal.

    However, the 66-year-old believes their lack of threat in front of goal is not an issue ahead of their showdown with the Albiceleste. 

    "We were not able to create many plays and execute them. We were under a lot of pressure, and sometimes we were not accurate in our passes," said Gareca, who became the 10th coach to have managed different teams in consecutive editions of the competition.

    "I'm not concerned. I think this will be useful for us to analyse our game to improve our game.

    "We, of course, hoped to win the match. But I think it's very important that we're able to take a point, and we still have two matches ahead of us."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Chile - Victor Davila

    Victor Davila will be hoping to rediscover the goal-scoring touch he experienced before the Copa America ahead of coming up against the World Cup champions. 

    Having scored three goals and provided one assist in his previous three international appearances heading into their opener against Peru, the CSKA Moscow striker showed glimpses of his attacking threat. 

    The 26-year-old has the joint-most shots (three) and the most touches in the opposition box (five), but failed to register a shot on target, coming off in the 65th minute with an expected goals (xG) total of 0.22. 

    Argentina - Lionel Messi 

    Messi has played in 35 out of 36 matches for Argentina in the Copa America since his debut. The only match he missed was a 2-1 group stage victory against Tuesday's opponents in 2016.

    The Inter Miami star registered an assist for Lautaro Martinez's late goal, reaching 50 direct goal involvements in official competitions for club and country on U.S. soil (30 goals and 20 assists).

    However, Messi will be hoping to add to his 108 international goals at the MetLife Stadium. Should he score, it would take his Copa America tally to 14, level with Chile's Eduardo Vargas and Peru's Paolo Guerrero, three away from equalling Norberto Mendez's record (17). 

     

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARGENTINA WIN 

    The Opta supercomputer is heavily backing Argentina to maintain their unbeaten start at the 2024 Copa America. They won 66.5% of the pre-match simulations, while Chile won just 15.1%. 

    Argentina come up against a familiar foe in Chile at the tournament, with this their 30th meeting at the Copa America. La Roja are the third-most frequent opponent for Lionel Scaloni's side, behind only Brazil (34) and Uruguay (32).

    La Albiceleste remain unbeaten against Chile in these encounters (21 wins, eight draws). However, La Roja clinched their two titles by defeating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the 2015 and 2016 finals.

    Since 2011, Argentina have the fewest losses (two) among teams that have played in more than one Copa America edition. La Albiceleste also boasts the most victories in the tournament during this period (18).

    Chile, however, will be looking to upset the odds. La Roja are looking for their first win in games between the two teams since June 2016. During that time, Argentina have outscored the Chilean side 7-4, something that will need to change to increase their chances of progression. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Chile - 15.1%

    Argentina - 66.5%

    Draw - 18.4%

  • Sylvinho: Anything possible for 'brave' Albania Sylvinho: Anything possible for 'brave' Albania

    Sylvinho says his side are "dreaming" of knockout football in Euro 2024, with everything still to play for in their final group game against Spain on Monday.

    Albania have impressed during their previous two games in the so-called 'group of death', having scored early goals to trouble both Italy and Croatia, including netting the quickest goal ever scored at the tournament against the former after just 23 seconds.

    Though they went on to lose that match 2-1, the Eagles salvaged a point deep in stoppage time to draw 2-2 with Croatia to give themselves a chance of making the knockout stages of the competition for the first time.

    Sylvinho's side are aiming to pull off a shock win when they face Spain, who have already qualified as Group B winners, but the Brazilian believes it is possible.

    "Many people five months ago thought that Albania would concede three or four goals and four or five in the next one, and the last match might not even mean anything," Sylvinho said.

    "We are all really pleased to be in the Group of Death with something to play for. We're going to go for it.

    "We've done everything to get here, we'll try to do something else. We're dreaming and we know it's possible. In 90 minutes, anything can happen."

    Italy face Croatia in the other group game, with both sides still in danger of an early exit. If Albania and Croatia both win, it becomes a little harder to separate the two sides in the table.

    With so many permutations surrounding the final fixture in the group, fans from all three nations will be eagerly checking in on the other result to see how their team will be affected.

    However, Sylvinho said he will not be paying any attention, instead choosing to focus on what Albania can control.

    "When you play a game, you try to win it. Even if you're inferior and you're playing a wonderful team, it doesn't matter," he said.

    "If we want to get through, we need to beat Spain. It won't be easy. We'll give it a go. We have brave players here who are really ambitious and we're really excited."

  • Van Dijk understands Netherlands criticism at Euro 2024 Van Dijk understands Netherlands criticism at Euro 2024

    Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk understands the criticism of his side at Euro 2024, despite remaining unbeaten in the tournament following their goalless draw against France last time out. 

    The Dutch came from behind to win their opening Group D game against Poland, before holding out for a point against a wasteful showing from Les Bleus. 

    In a game dominated by Didier Deschamps' side, the Netherlands recorded their lowest possession figure in a Euros game on record (since 1980) with 37%. 

    Despite this, excluding shootouts, the Oranje have lost just one of their last 18 games at major international tournaments, coming at Euro 2020 against Czechia (W12 D5). 

    Van Dijk and his team-mates were criticised by pundits and newspaper columnists after the game against France, but the Liverpool captain was unmoved by the comments. 

    "Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, that's fine," he said. "It doesn't bother me, it's part of football. If it irritated me, I would have a very unpleasant life.

    "Expectations are high, also among ourselves. We have a good team; I sincerely think so. We want to show it in big matches. After the match against France, we as players clearly said to each other what needs to be improved.

    “We can and must do better than we did against France. We can still make progress in this European Championship."

    The Netherlands face Austria in Berlin on Tuesday to conclude their group campaign. 

    Ronald Koeman's side knows that should they equal or better France's result against Poland, they will finish top of Group D ahead of the knockout stages. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.