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Preview: Minnesota United at Vancouver Whitecaps

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Minnesota United FC begins their 2019 season on the road in Vancouver, against Marc Dos Santos’s Whitecaps.

Adrian Heath
Adrian Heath exits the field after Minnesota United’s 0-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
Tim C McLaughlin

Year three, game one.

This is it; this is year three. Tomorrow is game one. The “three year plan” has officially commenced into its final stages and supporters of the club will finally get a glimpse of a re-invented Minnesota United squad.

The Loons begin their season with five straight road matches before they debut Allianz Field to the world. Vancouver is going to be an interesting matchup, and here’s why:

Carl Robinson is out, Marc Dos Santos is in. The Whitecaps new coach is a familiar name to many Loons fans who have been around since the NASL days, and frankly, he’s somebody that a good chunk of supporters were wanting to be hired before Adrian Heath began. However, Dos Santos may be a big addition to the squad, but more than anything, the Whitecaps have a near complete new roster to field tomorrow.

Highlighting the bunch? Freddy Montero. Montero played with the Seattle Sounders from 2011-2014, and since then he’s ventured to Colombia, Portugal and China. Now, he’s back and he is a threat. Vancouver may not have the likes of Alphonso Davies or Kei Kamara, but they’ve replaced their attacking duo with a fantastic attacker.

The Loons

This is a tough game to try and analyze before we take the pitch. We haven’t seen a whole lot of preseason action (there were streams, but the streams weren’t exactly helpful in terms of analyzing) and there are a lot of new faces and new possibilities.

  1. We have to ask ourselves: Who starts up top? Target man Angelo or speedy skiller Romario?
  2. Who gets the nod next to Opara? Boxall or Kallman?
  3. Does Rasmus Schuller start in an inverted winger role, or does he come off the bench? If he doesn’t start, who plays opposite of Miguel Ibarra?
  4. What formation is Adrian Heath going to roll out?

Let’s try and answer these in your #preview for Saturday.

  • I personally see Angelo, if he’s healthy, getting the nod up top. We’re playing a Vancouver defense that is relatively new to the league/new playing together. There could be some moments where we get a solid cross off in the box (Vancouver’s weakest spot is left back) and Angelo uses his versatility in the air to get a quick goal. We always have Mason Toye or Abu Danladi off the bench for speed if need be (I’ll get to Romario).
  • Brent Kallman is easily one of the most likable characters on the MNUFC squad, however, I think Michael Boxall is going to get the nod alongside new addition Ike Opara. Boxall typically plays in a RCB role and he will mold better with Opara on his left I think.
  • Rasmus Schuller is an interesting option for Minnesota. He is a phenomenal tackler and is really strong in the 8 role. However, I don’t think he has the versatility to continue playing as an inverted winger. Heath either needs to roll out with a 6 (Alonso) and two 8’s (Gregus and Schuller) or he needs to keep Schuller on the bench. Regardless, he is a valuable asset and having a player of his caliber coming off the bench will automatically be a plus.
  • Romario Ibarra: I honestly don’t know where to play him. He has had some great showings in the 9 role, but also has the mold to play winger opposite of Miguel and alongside Darwin. He is who I am most intrigued to see where he lines up come Saturday.
  • Lastly, what formation? Well, here is my best guess at a starting XI.

Jacob Schneider

Also, yeah, I think St. Clair gets the nod. It’s a gut feeling, and I just have a feeling about it. Vito just got back this week, Heath might wait another week before integrating him into the starting XI. Call me crazy.

Some EPL Predictions

  • Eli Hoff: 2-0 Minnesota
  • Colin O’Donnell: 2-2 draw
  • Zak Lippert: 1-0 Vancouver
  • Tim Mclaughlin: 2-1 Vancouver
  • Jacob Schneider (me): 3-3 draw

#Optimism

So Minnesota, this was your first match preview of 2019. It’s year three, there is a lot to be excited about. Tune into FSN North at 4:30 pm Saturday evening for the pregame show with kickoff scheduled for 5:00. Lets get this bread, you Loonatics.