Minnesota United’s defense posts shutout in 0-0 draw with Los Angeles Galaxy

Allianz Field’s LED lights were set to blue during Minnesota United’s first night game in its St. Paul stadium Wednesday, and after a 0-0 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy, that color matched coach Adrian Heath’s mood.

Through two home games, the Loons have managed two ties, meaning only two of a possible six points.

“I thought we were the most dominate team against a very good team,” Heath said. “I thought these were two points that we’ve lost.”

The Galaxy came in tied for the stingiest defense in MLS, allowing only seven goals in seven games. United applied pressure Wednesday, racking up 13 corners and 12 total shots but only one managed to get on frame. In the end, the Loons were shutout for the first time in eight games this season.

The Loons fell to 3-3-2 and are now winless their last three matches, but Wednesday’s result came against a hot Galaxy team that had won five straight, a run that started with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota on March 16. It represented their best streak since 2014.

After giving up seven goals in the last two games, Minnesota’s persistently beleaguered defense took satisfaction be satisfied with its second clean sheet this season, and their first since March 9.

“I’m fed up with hearing it,” Heath said. “I’m sure you’re fed up with talking about it because I know I am. But the clean sheet was welcomed.”

The Loons had given up seven goals in the last two games, including a 3-3 draw with New York City in the stadium opener and a 4-3 loss to Toronto on Friday.

Minnesota United midfielder Darwin Quintero attempts a corner kick in the first half against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Allianz Field in St. Paul on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Courtesy of Minnesota United

“I’m going to look at it from the last two game standpoint,” Ike Opara said. “This was progress. If we play like that, I’ll take our chances more often than not. That has got to be the standard. That has got to be the norm.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came in second in MLS with seven goals, while the Loons have given up 15 goals this season, including seven in the last two games. Ibrahimovic had three shots and one on goal.

In a scoreless first half, the Galaxy had 60 percent possession and the only two shots on goal, but Minnesota had eight corner kicks and Ike Opara connected on two threatening headers.

Minnesota’s 17 goals this season were third-most in MLS, and chances were there.

Angelo Rodriguez put a shot off the side netting in the eight minute, and in the 11th, Abu Danladi’s heavy second touch doomed a breakaway.

In the second half, Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero had, after cutbacks, good looks that weren’t converted.

United coach Adrian Heath made three attacking substitutions in the second half, brining on Miguel Ibarra for Kevin Molino and Romario Ibarra for Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay for Kevin Molino. They still couldn’t crack the Galaxy.

The Loons made five changes to its starting lineup after their heated 4-3 loss to Toronto FC on Friday. Two changes were forced with the red-card suspensions of midfielder Jan Gregus and Francisco Calvo. They watched Wednesday’s game from a third-level suite.

Eric Miller came in at left back for Calvo, while Rasmus Schuller filled in for Gregus in central midfield.

Opara returns after needing seven stitches in a collision in the Allianz Field opener and missed Toronto game. He was inserted into the lineup, with Michael Boxall, who gave up the game-winning goal to the Reds, going to the bench.

The Loons also made two attaching changes with Molino making his first start since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in March 2017. Danladi makes his second start of the season as the club has been cautious with his injury history.

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