The Vancouver Whitecaps come to town tomorrow, and they will meet an injury-battered Loons roster. That roster though, is made of pure grit and the starting XI tomorrow will do everything in their power to end the match with three points. Christian Ramirez is officially declared out, while Abu Danladi remains questionable along with, while Frantz Pangop. Ramirez is a huge loss for the squad while Pangop and Danladi remain the only attacking depth who have been in a Loons Uniform for more than two weeks. We now presume that due to the departure of Sam Nicholson this past week, Danladi and/or Pangop will get minutes and they will persevere through injury while rookie Mason Toye will get the nod up top.
The rookie could get his first start as a Loon after playing 60 minutes last week, the most he has ever played in his short professional career. This could be a massive test for the 19 year old and his professionalism and work-ethic could be displayed on full in front of twenty thousand plus on Saturday.
TheAthletic reporter, Jeff Reuter, who covers Minnesota United on a weekly basis, put out a lineup on twitter that I tend to agree with for a presumed starting XI tomorrow.
Here's my best guess for how #MNUFC will line up tomorrow. I would imagine Miller would be a bench option given abbreviated week in training. Loons looking threadbare in attack. pic.twitter.com/x3vrCoucTW— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) May 4, 2018
Bobby Shuttleworth will man between the sticks after two solid matches in net, and the back-line should stay the same as last week, with a presumed assumption that newly acquired fullback, Eric Miller, will be on the bench. Collin Martin has had a very lackluster 2018 season, but he looked really good in his 2018 debut this past weekend at home against Houston. The midfielder could feature at the “six” position beneath midfielders Ibson and Rasmus Schuller with a second option also being the infamous Maximiano, who we have yet to see in 2018 play. Miguel Ibarra has nailed down a starting spot for the Loons after a great run of matches over the month of April. He will be paired with Darwin Quintero on the wings while Mason Toye will feature up top. Another possible lineup that Adrian Heath could roll out with on Saturday would be his classic 4-2-3-1. The lineup would only require slight changes, with Alexi Gomez taking the spot of Collin Martin and moving that spot to the left wing where Ibarra would then slide to the middle and play above Schuller and Ibson while beneath Toye. I personally see it as too soon for Gomez to start for Minnesota, it doesn’t feel like he has had the time to adapt to play here, but with Adrian Heath, you never know.
The opposition this weekend will be without star attacker Christian Techera, who is suspended after receiving a red card last weekend. Vancouver also lists striker Kei Kamara as doubtful with an Adductor strain, which could be a huge plus for our struggling defense. The Whitecaps will look to add a third away win to their resume this weekend, and they will be led by teenage sensation, Alphonso Davies.
The Young Canadian will be a handful in the box as well as the midfield, Ibson and Schuller will have their hands full with his size and pace.
From an fan perspective, I expect nothing less than three points. From a professional perspective, I expect nothing less than three points. We are at home in front of a loving fanbase who will be screaming their heads off for 90+ minutes. The squad needs to take the energy from the fans and use it to their advantage while cataching Vancouver off-guard early on. We need to continue the hot streak, boil confidence into the veins of these players and finish games out. We need to start with ambition at the beginning of the match, not at the beginning of the second half. I am open-minded going into this, but with caution: What Minnesota United will show up? The first or second half team from last week? It is almost match-day folks; COME ON YOU LOONS.