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LAFC look to build head of steam for playoffs, host Minnesota United

Los Angeles FC will be in search of a jolt of energy on Wednesday when they face visiting Minnesota United, who will make one last-ditch bid at qualifying for the playoffs.

Each club has three matches remaining in the regular season.

LAFC (12-10-9, 45 points) are currently playoff eligible but have slipped to fourth place in the Western Conference with a disappointing September. The defending MLS Cup champions are 1-4-2 in MLS matches dating back to Aug. 26.

The two draws in that stretch were by 0-0 scores to a pair of top MLS teams in the Philadelphia Union and St. Louis City. There was also another 0-0 score in that span, as Los Angeles drew with Tigres of Mexico’s Liga MX in the Campeones Cup. Tigres won 4-2 on penalty kicks.

With the CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup, LAFC have played 14 matches outside of MLS competition.

“For any team that is going to do that next year, I can tell you that the rules and regulations of MLS roster (building) are not ample, and we are not equipped enough for all of these competitions,” Los Angeles coach Steve Cherundolo said.

“I think we have done an incredible job to stay in all competitions very late, but our guys are depleted … everybody in the organization is tired. Maybe it’s too many games or maybe we don’t have enough people to cover all these games.”

Denis Bouanga leads LAFC with 14 goals but has not scored in six of his past seven MLS matches. Carlos Vela has nine goals with none in his past seven MLS matches.

Minnesota United (9-11-11, 38 points) did not win any of their six September matches (0-3-3) to jeopardize their playoff hopes, playing to a 1-1 tie at home on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes to end a three-match losing streak.

In each of the past three matches, Minnesota held a lead but could not finish off a victory. The Loons gave up the match-tying goal in the 82nd minute on Saturday.

The club is three points behind Dallas FC, who hold the ninth and final playoff spot in the West.

What does Minnesota United consider a must-win match?

“Until it’s mathematically impossible for us,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “If we would have won (Saturday) and then gone to LAFC and got a result, we are still in with a shout. That is still available for us.”

Bongokuhle Hlongwane leads Minnesota United with eight goals and three assists, while Teemu Pukki has six goals, including five in his past six matches.

–Field Level Media

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