Minnesota United celebrated choreographed goals in the first half on Wednesday and got fired up internally in the second half.
After taking a 3-1 lead, the Loons allowed the LA Galaxy to score three goals in the second half for a 4-3 loss at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
After a complete collapse against the 13th-ranked Galaxy (8-11-9, 33 points), MNUFC (9-10-10, 37 points) fell from eighth to 10th place and were excluded from the Cup qualifiers MLS.
The Loons allowed Billy Sharp to score a hat-trick, and manager Adrian Heath scored all four goals allowed due to breakdowns in defense – due to a lack of communication and positional errors, often from the same players.
“We can’t keep doing the same (expletive) thing like we’re doing right now and expect to get different results,” Heath said after the game.
Minutes after Sharp, 37, reached his milestone, Loons left-back Ethan Bristow was sent off for a second yellow card in the 74th minute. The 21-year-old, in his first season in MLS, had pulled on Tyler Boyd’s jersey after Bristow knocked the ball away for his initial warning in the first half. When the red card was shown, he didn’t seem to know why.
“Stupid decision, you know you’re booked,” Heath said. “If you do that, you’re going to get another yellow card.”
Instead of bringing on a defender to solidify the backline in a tie, Heath made two attacking substitutions to tie the game in the 77th minute. Without a natural left back, Boyd filled that space and crossed it to Diego Fagundez for the game-winning goal in the 82nd minute.
Heath explained these two submarines this way: “We realized it was going to take a long time to defend with 10 men and then we needed a little energy. … It was, “Can we get some fresh legs?” Can we have some energy? That’s what we did.”
Who was supposed to replace the left back?
“When you’re with 10 men it’s always a bit difficult because you can get dragged out of position and they were putting runners between our centre-backs and fullbacks so you have to get inside,” Heath said . “When it starts, you obviously have to defend the center better than you did. At the end of the day, if you look closely, we have just as many men in the box as they do. Mark your man, stop him from getting to the ball first.
Bristow had been benched Wednesday in favor of Joseph Rosales after Bristow allowed the decisive goal in a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, but Bristow returned once Rosales appeared to suffer an injury. right hamstring in the sixth minute. Rosales appeared slowed by the hit in the build-up to Sharp’s first goal in the 16th minute, and Rosales came off in the 36th.
Star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso was replaced in the first half due to a thigh injury sustained in the KC match, with Heath saying it stiffened on Reynoso at half-time. The Loons begin again Saturday against first-place St. Louis City.
After Teemu Pukki responded to Sharp’s opening goal in the 19th minute, Hlongwane benefited from a huge deflection from former Loons player Raheem Edwards and his 25-yard effort looped past Jonathan Bond in the 41st minute. That’s when he celebrated his goal with Hassani Dotson and DJ Taylor at the same time.
Dayne St. Clair was needed for a double save late in the first half. After nullifying the Galaxy’s threat, he launched a long ball which was brought down and quickly set up Hlongwane’s goal in the fifth minute of injury time. With the goal, Hlongwane set a MNUFC record with 17 goals in all competitions in a season since the club joined MLS in 2017.
“We managed to waste a game we should have won,” Heath said. “…We talked about it at halftime, don’t take your foot off the pedal, don’t just back off, don’t let people get behind the ball and think you’re doing a job, that’s is pretty much what we did.”
Michael Boxall made his 200th MLS appearance on Wednesday. … On loan to San Antonio FC, forward Tani Oluwaseyi notched an assist in the USL Championship on Saturday, but he now has eight games without a goal. .. Cam Dunbar (Orange County) has played 56 minutes since mid-August and Patrick Weah (FC Tulsa) has only logged 23 minutes since. … Caden Clark was not in the squad for Vendsyssel FF, a second-tier Danish team, on Sunday.