Minnesota United is hoping to rebound this weekend on the road in Denver against the Colorado Rapids. The Loons are at the bottom of the Western Conference (0-0-2, 0 points) while the Rapids (1-0-1, 3 points) are in fifth.
Colorado received a reputation for being a defensive stalwart last season and that trend has continued into their first two matches of the 2017 season. They have conceded just one goal so far (a sloppy own goal last week away at New York Red Bulls).
Colorado's Offense vs Minnesota's Defense
Defense has been a huge concern for the Loons, especially defending against counter-attacks. Unfortunately, counter-attacks are the Rapids' primary form of offense. Colorado often plays a long ball from holding midfielders Michael Azira and Sam Cronin over the top to wingers Dominique Badji and Marlon Hairston. This strategy is similar to what Atlanta United used to score six goals last week, meaning defense could be an issue again.
Minnesota's Offense vs Colorado's Defense
Minnesota received an unlikely stroke of luck with the injury of center-back Axel Sjoberg. Colorado's defense is anchored by United States National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard made several fine saves against the Red Bulls last week, cementing the former Manchester United and Everton keeper's status as an MLS stalwart. The Rapids' back line can only be described as tidy. Defenders are consistently in perfect position to intercept passes and switch off with each other seamlessly. If there is any flaw in Colorado's defense it lies in their ability to defend against set pieces and crosses. If Minnesota is going to produce any goals in Denver, they'll have to be perfect in the attacking penalty area.
Picking up three points won't be easy against the Colorado Rapids but if the Loons can take advantage of any defensive errors by the Rapids while avoiding mistakes like the errors against Atlanta, earning the first points of 2017 could be a possibility in this match.