Welcome to FM Sims, where I use the most powerful and most advanced statistics, projections, and simulation technology known to man to look at what will happen in future games. Really though, I just bought a copy of Football Manager 17.
Football Manager is the best option for those that love tactics, the intricacies of transfer markets, and telling players how to train — also the best for unrealistic players and even more unrealistic physics. It also gives me no option for a quick one-off game. So . . . on my current Loons squad, Adrian Heath is out, all the post-draft trades that happened in reality have not happened in Football Manager, and I went on vacation from February 2016 to January 2017 and didn’t get fired. Minnesota United also had no league games to play in that time and made a deep US Open Cup run. Realism!
I returned from vacation to find my Minnesota United had acquired Harry Shipp and Jelle Van Damme, but I elected not to start either of those hacks against Los Angeles. I stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation that my Geordie predecessor had established. Bobby Shuttleworth, probably sensing that his nose and various other body parts would be unsafe in Minnesota, declined my offer to mind the Loons’ net. In his place was Loons-drafted-but-not-signed GK Alec Ferrell; Will’s nephew and the inspiration for the classic Kicking and Screaming. From left to right in the back were Justin Davis, Francisco Calvo, Brent Kallman, and Kevin Venegas. In midfield we had Rasmus Schüller, and Collen Warner, Kevin Molino, Johan Venegas, and Miguel Ibarra. Christian Ramirez started up top because he’s going to win the Golden Boot, and anybody who disagrees hasn’t drunk enough of the Kool Aid they sell behind Section 127.
The only notable start for the Galaxy was Robbie Rogers. Sure, he has a season-ending ankle surgery, but the beautiful little elf-man’s ankle held up in this merciful alternate reality. Also, Jack McBean was picked over Gyasi Zardes because . . . I have no idea. Maybe Zardes’ feet actually turned to stone, and he wasn’t quite ready to go.
The first half was all Minnesota, as far as keeping the ball was concerned. The Loons were happy to knock the ball around like a beach ball at a Chainsmokers “concert” and ended up with 63% of the possession. Los Angeles recorded 7 shots (2 on target) to Minnesota’s 4 (with none on target), both teams only wanting to shoot from outside the box and straight at each keeper’s chest. The best chance United came after a Robbie Rogers yellow card led to a free kick right outside the 18-yard box. Calvo took the opportunity to concuss one of the Galaxy players forming the wall. It must have been a centerback because Ramirez looked dangerous from then on, although he only took one shot.
It took about fifteen minutes, but there was finally a breakthrough. Following a United throw-in, Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe punched the ball out to Ramirez. Superman unselfishly flicked on to Schüller who found Molino near the top of the box. Kevin dribbled forward a few yards, and seeing that there wasn’t a Galaxy player even looking his way, launched a rocket into the top right corner. Perhaps the visitors were distracted by the trees and grass that naturally grow here in Minneapolis because we didn’t build our city in a desert by the ocean. Who knows?
In about the 75th minute, I made a double substitution: Bernardo Añor for Johan Venegas and Mohammed Saeid for Collen Warner. There were two reasons for these changes. Both Venegas and Warner looked tired, and I miss the days when Mo Saeid was stirring the loins of Loons fans with that wry smile and cup of tea. In this reality, MN United had the sense not to trade away the sex appeal of the team, so I subbed him in. And yes, I realize his trade helped in real life. So just delete the comment I know you already started typing.
From then on out, United bossed the game. Saeid controlled the midfield as the Loons launched several good-looking attacks from the wings. Seeing that the Galaxy were looking to counter, I instructed the team to take a more defensive mentality. In an ode to Inchy, I stuck with the two subs and never sent a third one on. The Galaxy, most likely frustrated that we don’t have to ration water here and the rent is reasonable, picked up two more yellow cards as United rode out the remainder of the game and picked up all three points. The Loons ended up with two shots on target out of eight and 60% of the possession.
So there you have it. Science says that Minnesota United will beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 and leapfrog them into that all-important mid-May playoff spot. Unless Vancouver gets a couple past Sporting KC of course. If we can do it, so can they . . . with all the realism of Football Manager.