Galaxy knock off Minnesota United to set up conference semifinal meeting with LAFC
Thanks to a pair of goals, less than five minutes apart, the Galaxy knocked off fourth-seeded Minnesota United, Sunday and advanced in the MLS Western Conference playoffs.
Sebastian Lletget opened the scoring in the 71st minute and in the 75th, Jonathan dos Santos scored a curler from approximately 20 yards away to give the Galaxy, the fifth-seed a two-goal lead on the way to a 2-1 win in a first-round game at Allianz Field.
With the win, the Galaxy advances to the conference semifinals, Thursday against top-seeded LAFC. The game will be played at Banc of California Stadium (7:30 p.m.; ESPN).
After a sluggish first half, the game opened up in the second half.
Minnesota United had a couple of missed opportunities and brought on offensive-minded subs Mason Toye and Darwin Quintero.
The Galaxy finally broke through as Lletget, making a run out of the midfield, was able to get a deflected shot by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and beat Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone for the opening goal.
Four minutes later, dos Santos beat Mannone with a curling shot from approximately 22 yards out to give the Galaxy a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota United made things interesting the 87th minute as Jan Gregus cut the lead in half, but that was as close as it would get.
This was the third meeting between the teams this season. The Galaxy won the first game, 3-2, March 16 and the second ended in a scoreless draw.
At the start of the game, Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, tried to alleviate his team's defensive woes, starting four center backs on the back line (David Romney, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta and Giancarlo Gonzalez) and Perry Kitchen sitting in front in a central defensive midfield role.
"We went with Giancarlo (Gonzalez) for Rolf (Feltscher) because we know Minnesota and they were dangerous and we wanted to put people on the back line to defend," Schelotto said. "They defended very well today and played very well."
The Galaxy also welcomed back Romain Alessandrini, who had been sidelined since April after undergoing knee surgery. Alessandrini entered as a sub in the 73rd minute.
"With Romain we could manage the ball better," Schelotto said. "He did well, he had opportunity to score, he can be much better and I think he will take confidence into training."
The win sets up a third meeting between the Galaxy and LAFC. The Galaxy won the first encounter, 3-2, July 19 and the second ended a wild 3-3 draw that saw the Galaxy take a 3-1 lead in the first half.
The winner will advance to the conference finals.
"It is very exciting for us," Schelotto said. "We know they were the best team in the league during the season, they played very well, but now it is playoffs and it's just 90 minutes. We know what team we are going to play and we have a lot of confidence."
On a handful of occasions this season, results across the MLS' Western Conference did Minnesota United favors in the standings. On some match days, everything seemed to break the Loons' way. It contributed to Minnesota United
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