After parting with coach, Minnesota United face hungry Galaxy

ByReuters ESPN logo
Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Los Angeles Galaxy will try to keep their slim MLS Cup playoff hopes alive Saturday when they play sputtering Minnesota United in Saint Paul, Minn.

Both teams likely need to win out to have any chance at making the Western Conference playoffs. Los Angeles (8-12-11, 35 points) trails ninth-place FC Dallas by six points for the final playoff spot with three matches left for both teams.

Minnesota United (9-12-11, 38 points), which fired head coach Adrian Heath Friday morning, is three points behind but has just two matches remaining.

The Loons bring a seven-match winless streak (0-4-3), tied for the longest in franchise history, into the contest after an ugly 5-1 loss LAFC Wednesday. That contest could have been even more lopsided if not for a 10-save performance by goaltender Dayne St. Clair.

Less than 48 hours later, Heath, the only manager the Loons have had in their seven years of existence, and technical director Mark Watson were both shown the door. Assistant coach Sean McAuley will manage the team for the final two matches.

"In terms of why now, it's not something that comes rash after a bad defeat in L.A.," franchise CEO Shari Ballard told reporters at practice Friday. "I felt the performance had been plateauing a bit the last couple of years. We've had some really positive stuff and some things that have been hard. As we got through the year it just continues to go in the wrong direction."

Minnesota United are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. The Loons are tied with the last-place Colorado Rapids for fewest home wins in MLS with three.

The Galaxy come in off a 2-1 loss at Seattle Wednesday. Cristian Roldan scored in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time to win it for the Sounders and deny L.A. a crucial point. Douglas Costa had tied the match for the Galaxy with a goal in the 54th minute.

"To lose the point at the end is heartbreaking for the group." Galaxy coach Greg Vanney told reporters. "The gut punch at the end is that it's the last play of the game."

L.A. rallied for a 4-3 victory over Minnesota United in a Sept. 20 match in Carson, Calif., and finishes the season with home matches against Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.

"We know what we have to do. We have to win all our games," defender Kelvin Leerdam said. "So I'm not looking at which team we're playing, where we're playing. I'm only thinking about winning."

--Field Level Media