The MLS Cup playoffs are underway as the race to reach the final, and eventually win the trophy, begins. It’s been a long road to get to this point and nobody will want to fall at, what is essentially, the final hurdle. One game that was particularly intriguing this past weekend saw Minnesota United and LA Galaxy go head to head, with the winner being set to progress and face runaway Western Conference champions LAFC in the next round.
The next step
There’s certainly an argument to be made that Minnesota was in full control of this game for large periods but just couldn’t quite break Los Angeles down from a goalscoring perspective. Given the weight of the expectations in play, and the fact that they had home-field advantage, you could sense a growing anxiety within the team that just didn’t wear away.
Galaxy were gaining in confidence with each and every passing minute, mainly because nobody ever really knows what to expect from them. One week they’re being tipped to push LAFC all the way at the top of the West and then the next, they’ve slipped out of the playoff picture altogether. At this stage, we would assume they were probably just happy to be there.
Taking the next step from being the underdogs to being in control of a game is difficult, but Galaxy were able to do that as they silenced the Minnesota crowd courtesy of Sebastian Lletget who gave his team the advantage with around 20 minutes remaining. Before Minnesota even had time to react they were 2-0 down, with Jonathan dos Santos delivering yet another sucker punch.
Clash of the Titans
Jan Gregus was able to wake the crowd up and bring Minnesota to within one goal with just a few minutes remaining, but you always got the sense that it was just too little, too late.
Galaxy are into the next round and when they get there, they will face bitter rivals LAFC in a game that is popularly known as El Trafico. It isn’t going to be pretty and it may even get a little bit ugly at times, but such is the nature of an inter-city derby.
Nobody can really prepare for the heightened emotions that come alongside a game of this magnitude, especially now that there is a place in the Conference Finals up for grabs. In many ways it would’ve been great if this turned out to be the MLS Cup Final, but we all know that isn’t possible.
The pressure is well and truly on the shoulders of LAFC in this game, especially since they’ve even had extra time to rest. Whether or not they’re able to make that count remains to be seen, but you can bet that they would’ve been preparing for Galaxy from the minute the first goal went in at the weekend.