Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy: Keys to the match, projected starting XI and a prediction

Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Allianz Field
Stream: Apple TV Season Pass
Radio: KSTP-AM 1500 ESPN
Weather: 70 degrees, cloudy, 10 mph northwest wind
Betting line: MNUFC plus-105; draw plus-280; L.A. plus-205

Form: MNUFC (6-2-2) and Galaxy (5-2-5) are tied for second in the Western Conference with 20 points apiece. The Loons, however, have played two fewer games and have an edge in points per game (2.0 to 1.67). Minnesota has won three straight; L.A. is winless in three.

Absences: Emanuel Reynoso (return-to-play protocol), Hassani Dotson (hamstring), Hugo Bacharach (knee), Jordan Adebayo-Smith (ankle) and Moses Nyeman (thigh) are out.

Update: Head coach Eric Ramsay spoke with Reynoso briefly since the attacking midfielder returned to Minnesota last week.

“The nature of our situation at the moment is we are going into a really busy period of games, where we are playing every three days,” Ramsay said. “The team is really moving in the right direction. There is a really good energy around the team.

“It’s sort of no — it’s not me being evasive in any sense when I say we are focused on the players we got in front of us and those that are available and playing. That, as much as it’s a big narrative in the media, I think internally, it’s only a very minor thing.”

Ramsay did say Reynoso “wants to come back and work hard and hopefully be humble and recognize the situation he is in, and fingers crossed, he can get himself into a good place. That is the only way that we, and I hope him and his camp, are looking at it. It’s a very individual thing at the time being. We will sort of cross the team bridge when we arrive at that.”

Projected XI: In a 5-2-3 formation, LW Franco Fragapane, CF Tani Oluwaseyi, RW Sang Bin Jeong; CM Robin Lod, CM Wil Trapp; LB Devin Padelford, CB Micky Tapias, CB Michael Boxall, CB Kervin Arriaga; RB DJ Taylor; GK Dayne St. Clair.

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Look-ahead: The Loons host Portland Timbers on Saturday, so how Ramsay handles the first double-game week remains to be seen. Ramsay has show a willingness to use a deeper squad of players and he estimated 18-22 could see the field over this week.

Scouting report: Galaxy have four players averaging 0.5 goals plus assists per 90 minutes, including Dejan Joveljic, Joseph Paintsil, Riqui Puig and Gabriel Pec. Ramsay looks at L.A. has one of, if not the, best front fours in MLS.

Player to watch: Puig. “He can open games up with how he can run with the ball, the passes he sees,” captain Michael Boxall said. “He’s been a great player for them. He’s one of their key pieces that we have to shut down. If we can get it to their wide players, it’s less dangerous out there and we can manage the crosses, then that’s the first step toward getting three points.”

Stat: 0.8 points per game. The Loons are averaging an incredible 2.4 points per match on the road, compared to still-quality 1.6 in St. Paul. Slower starts have been a bugaboo for MNUFC in recent home games.

Prediction: The Loons’ new back five formation has allowed only two goals across the last three games, while Galaxy have scored only two over the previous three. Trends continue in a 1-0 win for the home team.