Striker Robin Lod was in the Minnesota United starting lineup for the first time in eight games. All-star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso was in the starting lineup for the first time in five games. And as it turns out, all it took to fix the Loons' ailing offense was fixing those two injuries.
Reynoso scored twice in the first 20 minutes, assisted by Lod on the first goal. Ethan Finlay added a third tally midway through the second half, and the Loons beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 at Allianz Field.
"The demise of Minnesota United is probably not as great as some people think," Loons manager Adrian Heath said. "If we're going to do what we did last year, reach the conference finals and make an impact, we need all of our best players fit, that's for sure."
It was not only Minnesota's biggest win of the year, it was the first time the Loons had scored more than two goals in a game all season — and the first time United had ever beaten the Galaxy. It was also three much-needed points for United (9-8-7), which had fallen to eighth place in the Western Conference. The win brought them back within four points of the fourth-place Galaxy, and with a game in hand.
It took Lod and Reynoso barely three minutes to remind their teammates as to the location of the back of the net. Lod held up the ball at the top of the Galaxy penalty area, then fed Reynoso, whose left-footed shot skimmed low into the bottom-right corner of the Los Angeles net.
In the 20th minute, Reynoso scored again, and again from outside the Galaxy penalty area — but this time, it was the top-right corner that he found, occasioning an all-timer of a roar from the sold-out Allianz Field crowd.
"Everybody knows the quality he has," Heath said. "The one criticism I have is that I keep saying he should score more goals. He takes as much pleasure out of making goals as he does scoring goals. Now he's got to change that."
Reynoso said postgame that he was not yet back to 100%, but it hardly showed. It was his first multigoal game with the Loons, and his third and fourth goals of the season.
BOXSCORE: Loons 3, L.A. Galaxy 0
Searching for a way back into the game, the Galaxy (11-9-5) inserted Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Jonathan dos Santos and Victor Vázquez into the game with a half-hour to go. It seemed like a power move, the ability to try to change the game with two Mexican internationals and a former FC Barcelona player.
"Honestly I felt like it was one of the hardest 3-0 wins we've ever had with how hard we fought to grind out that result," goalkeeper Tyler Miller said. "The Galaxy have a good team, but we got some of our top guys back today, and we have a good team as well."
All the uber-offensive substitution from the visitors caused was another goal at the other end of the field. Ethan Finlay, running inside from his right-wing position, narrowly beat the Galaxy's offside trap, and a through ball from Franco Fragapane put Finlay alone in on goal. The winger made no mistake, slotting home the Loons' third and effectively killing off the game