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Written By Nicolas Hallett (ZoneCoverage.com)
The odds were heavily stacked against the Loons as they flew to California. Minnesota United is already dealing with a bevy of injury issues, and Wednesday’s fixture provided the additional challenges of playing on short rest and playing on the road. As a result of all these factors, United head coach Adrian Heath decided to rest multiple starters. In short, any points won by the Loons in Los Angeles would have quite assuredly been seen as a bonus. On the night, though, Los Angeles FC took care of the languished Loons with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win.
When they had every excuse imaginable to put in a poor performance, United actually didn’t play that badly. This game could have been a train-wreck considering LAFC entered the game as the second-highest scoring team in the Western Conference. If not for a few silly errors it’s entirely plausible Minnesota could have come away with at least a point from this fixture.
Francisco Calvo. United’s defense has been its bugaboo for sometime, but it’s doubly concerning when your top-billed defender is at the heart of those issues. Calvo was clearly at fault for both goals Wednesday night, and it’s clear he’s one of the barometers by which you can measure United on a per game basis; if he performs poorly the chances the Loons will win a given match drop dramatically.
Coach rating out of 10
6 — As mentioned above, the odds were greatly stacked against Heath heading into this match, and thus, it feels harsh to even grade him at all. Nevertheless, the defense and specifically Calvo’s performance have to fall on his shoulders to some degree. You feel for Heath, though, as he’s clearly stuck between a rock and a hard place: Calvo’s your most talented defender, yet his defensive mishaps continue to cost you points. What do you do? It’ll be fascinating to watch how the Englishman handles the situation, particularly if Minnesota can remain in playoff contention.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best)
*Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating
GK Bobby Shuttleworth, 8 — He continues to provide stellar goalkeeping. He had no chance at stopping either goals and showed his quality by repelling numerous shots, but even more impressively he rarely allowed LAFC any second bites because his rebound control was top notch.
RB Carter Manley, 6 — Maintained the standard he’s showed in his earlier performances this season. His passing remains above average for his position and especially so when considering he’s a rookie.
CB Michael Boxall, 6 — Rarely put a foot wrong and did a good job winning his aerial duels.
CB Francisco Calvo, 2 — What a drop off from Calvo, who last game registered an 8 in these rankings. This is among the chief problems for the Loons’ franchise and an issue no one really wants to address. United’s club captain and arguably best defender commits far too many errors. The Costa Rican costs his team points far too often considering his stature within the franchise. I mentioned his strong performance last week, but too often this season a solid performance from Calvo has been an outlier rather than the norm.
LB Jerome Thiesson, 7 — Tasked with handling one of the very best players in Major League Soccer in Carlos Vela, the Swiss defender showed he can handle pretty much any job as he limited the Mexican international to a fairly timid performance.
CM Collin Martin, 5 — It’s clear he has limited upside, but Martin did his duty on the night by being well-positioned defensively and completing 17 of his 21 passes.
CM Maximiano, 5 — Struggled to have any real impact on the game. His presence as a large, robust defensive midfielder is a welcomed sight, and we’ll need more time to judge his true quality. He didn’t appear to be fully fit, something Heath has mentioned previously.
RW Miguel Ibarra, 7 — Continues to operate on the best form of his MLS career. Ibarra had the Loons’ best chance of the game, which would have surely gone in if not for a dramatic goal-line clearance. Even despite the difficult conditions, Ibarra completed nine successful passes in the final third.
LW Alexi Gomez, 5 — Had an off night and was the poster child for how much a poor team display can negatively effect the individual. The fact that there’s no healthy No. 9 and regular starting midfielders Rasmus Schuller and Ibson didn’t play from the onset clearly upset the rhythm of the team, including Gomez.
CM Harrison Heath, 4 — At times appeared to provide some quality passing and link-up play for the Loons, but the stats show Adrian Heath’s son turned the ball over quite a bit. Add in his lack of defensive nous and athleticism, and it’s easy to see why he hasn’t featured much this season.
ST Darwin Quintero, 6 — Having to play as the false No. 9 clearly wasn’t an ideal fit for the Colombian. He needs a target man in the lineup for him to be able to fully express himself.
CM Rasmus Schuller, N/A
M Frantz Pangop, N/A