Only a few years ago, Minnesota United seemed to be trying to construct an entire starting lineup out of wingers.

Now, suddenly, the team has run out of them.

Franco Fragapane, who arrived from Argentina earlier in the year and slotted in on the left wing, picked up a thigh injury in mid-July and is not close to returning. Robin Lod, who's bounced back and forth between playing as a striker and as an inverted winger on the right side, is unavailable after suffering a calf injury in training late last week.

Niko Hansen, who served as Lod's replacement during the European Championships, also strained his right hamstring last week and is out for several weeks. Neither Lod nor Hansen trained Monday, and a team spokesman said neither are likely to travel for Tuesday's game at San Jose.

With two more games this week, including Saturday at home against Sporting Kansas City, the sudden dearth of attacking players couldn't come at a worse time.

Saturday against Los Angeles, coach Adrian Heath's solution was to play midfielder Hassani Dotson on the left wing. Early in the season, the youngster had deputized there as well, but even Heath acknowledged that he'd rather not be playing Dotson out wide again. "We all know that's not really his best position," he said.

Heath said the club has salary cap space to add a new player, as well as an open international roster spot if that player happens to be an overseas player. However, with the league past the summer transfer window deadline, the team wouldn't be able to bring in a player who's not already playing in North America.

The winger shortage also comes as starting striker Adrien Hunou appears to be at a low in confidence. Hunou had a couple of decent chances from near-post runs against the Galaxy, but both times couldn't manage to get a header on target.

It marks the fifth game in a row that Hunou hasn't troubled the goalkeeper with a shot on net.

"He needs to get a goal and a really good performance behind him to start getting some confidence," Heath said. "I had a 20-year career playing up front. I know what it's like when not a lot's going right for you."

The two substitutes Heath used on Saturday might give a glimpse of the coach's thinking for the next two matches. With 20 minutes to go, Heath took off Dotson and Hunou and put in striker Juan Agudelo and winger Justin McMaster.

Agudelo almost scored minutes later, with a long-range rocket that Los Angeles keeper Jonathan Klinsmann managed to claw out of the top corner. "I thought Juan gave us a lift when he came on," said Heath. "That'll be good for him."

Midfielder Wil Trapp had nothing but praise postgame for McMaster, the team's first-round draft pick, who just returned from the league health and safety protocols.

"A natural winger coming in there like Justin, that gives a little bit more continuity at that position," said Trapp. "Hassani, for all his qualities, he'd probably rather be playing in the middle of the midfield. It's really just about getting guys comfortable and confident in what their role will be."

Losing to Los Angeles was a missed opportunity to climb the Western Conference standings. The loss leaves Minnesota closer to the bottom of the standings than the top, and only three points ahead of eighth-place LAFC for the final playoff spot.

Despite that, Trapp took positives from a loss in which only Klinsmann's outstanding goalkeeping kept Minnesota from earning points.

"It doesn't change where we're at mentally," he said. "It just shows that we need to do the little things that gave us opportunity after opportunity in this game. If we do that, the dam will break open and we'll score goals."