CARSON, Calif. – Construction on Minnesota United FC’s brand-new stadium, Allianz Field, is complete, and it will be open for business in a few short weeks. The team itself, though, is very much a work in progress.
Minnesota United FC dropped its first game of the season Saturday night, falling 3-2 to the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Jan Gregus and Angelo Rodriguez scored goals for Minnesota (2-1-0), which fell behind 2-0 in the first half and 3-1 but just could not come all the way back.
“We didn’t have a good start, and when you play against good teams away from home you usually get punished for it,” acting head coach Mark Watson said. “Our message at halftime was, it wasn’t good enough. We didn’t have enough aggression in our play. That’s never going to be good enough on the road. 2-0 at halftime is rarely a winning score.”
Head coach Adrian Heath did not make the trip to Southern California. Oral surgery earlier in the week led to an infection, and Heath was unable to make the trip.
Not having Heath around did impact the team, but the immediate effects were not evident.
“I don’t know what the effect was,” Watson said. “We had a good week of preparation, a very similar week of preparation than we had in the past. The approach to the game was the same. He’s obviously a big part of this club so he was missed.”
Affecting the team more was the hole the visitors dug in the first half. Even without star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and talented winger Romain Alessandrini, the hosts were up 2-0 at halftime. Jonathan Dos Santos converted from the penalty spot in the 36th minute. Just five minutes later, the Galaxy doubled its lead when Chris Pontius extended his arms and knocked the ball into the back of the net with his chest.
Minnesota pressed with more urgency as the second half wore on. The club made all three of its allotted substitutions by the 74th minute, and one minute later that urgency paid off. Gregus rifled a 35-yard shot past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham. The goal was Gregus’ first since joining Minnesota United as a designated player in the offseason.
The Galaxy pushed its lead back to two goals in the 81st minute when Sebastian Lletget knocked a cross into the back of the net, surprising goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Minnesota kept fighting, and a pair of second-half substitutes earned their keep. Abu Danladi knocked a header past Bingham and off the post, and Rodriguez was in good position to knock the rebound into an empty net.