A crunch match between two teams fighting for a place in the postseason takes place at Dignity Health Sport Park on Sunday evening, as LA Galaxy plays host to Minnesota United.
For the third time this season, the Galaxy and Minnesota will come together on the field. First off, back in August, Galaxy won by a goal to nil on the road, but the Loons returned the favour just a month later, winning by three goals to nil in front of a home crowd. Can they repeat the feat on the road?
LA Galaxy – Theirs to lose
In what could be an evening of thrills and spills in the western half of Major League Soccer, the LA Galaxy, results depending, could lose and still make the postseason, or they could tie and not go through. Fortunately, their fate is in their own hands as a win would guarantee safe passage to the play-offs.
Greg Vanney’s men should be feeling pretty confident ahead of this one, as home soil is where they’ve been most effective this term, while they’re currently unbeaten in four at home. That said, they’ve only won one of those four, keeping zero clean sheets, and given that they’ve not exactly been going up against the cream of the crop in this division, such a record probably isn’t as pleasing as it first sounds. There’s definitely hope for the visitors.
Expected Line-Up: Pending
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Minnesota United – Job nearly done
As they currently sit two points above their visitors here, Sunday’s hosts are in a slightly more favourable position. Win and they’re definitely in the postseason. Tie and they’re definitely in the postseason. Even a defeat is likely to see the Loons through, though they won’t want to leave it up to fate, that’s for sure.
Like Galaxy, Minnesota have carried out their best work at home, but Adrian Heath’s men are not averse to getting a positive result on the road. Their recent travelling record is mixed, losing one, tying one and winning one of their last three, but they’ve been digging in and making themselves hard to beat, conceding just two goals during that time, so they’re unlikely to be pushed around here.
Expected Line-Up: Pending
Expert Pick #1 – Minnesota +1 Handicap @-115
The Galaxy come into this fixture as favourites, though given that their recent home form hasn’t been overly impressive, it’s easy to pick holes in odds of -110 for the home win. At the current odds, Minnesota to simply avoid defeat looks like a good play. The visitors have ground out a couple of solid results on their travels of late, while the way this one is set up should favour them too. After all, it is they that only need a draw, so Heath’s men can be rigid, take their time and play on the break. Such an approach certainly favoured them when they won by a goal to nil away against Austin recently.
Expert Pick #2 – Minnesota to Score Over 1.5 Goals @+180
It’s been a while since the visitors notched more than once on their travels, but again the way this one is set up should favour them, especially on the counter. As Galaxy look to push for the win that they’ll likely require, the visitors can offer a threat on the break, much as they have done in recent away matches when posting pleasing expected goals for figures of 1.8, 1.6 and 1.5.
Expert Pick #3 – Adrien Hunou to Score @+285
Adrien Hunou has an opportunity to finish the postseason on the front foot here, and bettors can profit by siding with him to find the net. The Frenchman comes off the back of scoring two in his last five, while his xG average of 0.54 bodes well up against Galaxy’s less than secure defense. Moreover, Minnesota’s man, who has six goals to his name so far this campaign, averages 3.58 shots per 90 minutes, which again stands out, especially when he’s priced at +285 to score.
As both teams fight for a position in the postseason, as many teams in both the west and east will be this weekend, Minnesota are fancied to take advantage of the fact that it is they who only need a point from this fixture. In recent weeks, the visitors have proved that they can sit back and grind out results, while they’re no slouches on the break, which could be a problem for a Galaxy backline that has struggled defensively of late.