They are an incredible 17 points apart in the league standings of the Major League Soccer (MLS) Western Conference table. Yet, you would certainly not have thought that this was the case had you happened to catch the action from Minnesota United’s 2-0 win over Los Angeles FC. The visitors stunned the home side with this victory, which, for the record, was their first home reverse of the regular season.
The visitors are nicknamed the Loons, and there was indeed no shortage of something approaching lunacy as the game unfolded. No one could see it coming, given the absolute dominance of the home side in the league. The table-toppers are so strong that they are even 16 points better off then Seattle Sounders, the team in second spot.
But when it is your day, it is your day — and this was certainly the case for United who had a Mason Toye double before the break to thank for their triumph at a shocked Bank of California Stadium on Sunday.
True, the visitors did have to soak up some pressure during the opening passages of play but they were always looking sharp and this came to fruition when they took the lead with 25 minutes of the game under way. The goal came when an attack by the home side broke down and hot prospect Toye — found by a perceptive pass from midfield ace Jan Gregus — bent a peach of a shot into the net from what looked like an impossible angle — and that made it 1-0 to the delirious visitors and their small group of travelling fans.
And if that wasn’t too good to be true for United, it was to get better just four minutes later. Toye, who is surely in the reckoning for a call-up for the US team after a recent nod for the U23s, once again had his shooting boots on and beautifully polished — and he used his left-foot to great effect with a 30-yard belter past a despairing Pablo Sisniega.
True the home side were without deadly Mexican marksman Carlos Vela, who is still injured. Also true is that United keeper Vito Mannone, a former Arsenal custodian, was forced into eight saves as the pressure was piled on. But coach Bob Bradley said that the visitors deserved credit for their victory, and hinted that it could well have been a different story had Vela been available to call on.
“When you become a good team, teams are going to come in with a good plan. Would it help to have Carlos out there in those situations? Of course. But give them credit. They defended with a plan. They made good plays. And we weren’t quite there.”