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Minnesota United-Los Angeles FC Preview
While winning the Western Conference is a formality at this point for Los Angeles FC, the club might also believe it's a good time give star Carlos Vela a little rest.
It's uncertain if the ailing Vela will feature when LAFC has a chance to clinch the West on Sunday night against visiting Minnesota United FC.
There are various results around MLS that will officially clinch the conference crown for LAFC (19-3-5), though it can take care of the matter alone by simply winning Sunday. Whether Vela (27 goals, 15 assists) is on the pitch to help remains to be seen.
The best player in MLS came off just after the hour mark of last weekend's 3-3 draw in the El Trafico against the Los Angeles Galaxy with what reportedly is being considered a minor hamstring issue. According to LAFC's official website, rookie Brian Rodriguez could make his first start while Vela rests further.
Last weekend's draw ended a five-game winning streak for LAFC, which also failed to win for only the second time at home (11-0-2) this season. That result might fuel Los Angeles for this potentially difficult challenge against a Minnesota club looking to work its way back into the top four of the West.
"These points are important (for Minnesota)," defender Steven Beitashour told LAFC's official website. "But it doesn't change how every team, when they come to play us … we kind of have a target on our backs. We've been doing it a majority of the season, so we're looking forward to the challenge."
Though LAFC could very well be without its brightest star, the task this weekend might be even greater for Minnesota (12-9-6). United was sitting second in the West not long ago, but is 1-2-1 since a 5-0-2 run and now enters this weekend's slate of games in fifth place. After losing 1-0 at Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 22, Minnesota lost to Atlanta United FC in the U.S. Open Cup final this weekend, making this a bit of a quick turnaround.
"Of course, it's going to be a tough challenge," midfielder Robin Lod told Minnesota's official website. "But I think that after the (U.S. Open Cup) final loss, we are really motivated and we will give a really good challenge to (LAFC) for sure."
Minnesota last dropped back-to-back league matches during a three-game slide from May 29-June 8. United, though, is 0-2-1 on the road since winning at Montreal on July 6.
United's Darwin Quintero has tallied six of his team-leading eight MLS goals on the road.
Updated August 30, 2019