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Preview: Loons try to cap off road trip against Red Bulls

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United will try to secure their goal of seven points from their first five games.

April 3, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo (5) dribbles the ball during the Loon's first team practice at Allianz Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
April 3, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo (5) dribbles the ball during the Loon’s first team practice at Allianz Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

So far in 2019, we’ve seen two very different versions of Minnesota United.

First, there was the contender-level squad of the opening two matches — both wins. Lately, however, the Loons’ performances have rivaled the ineptitude of the past two seasons.

With one more road game before the opening of Allianz Field, Minnesota has a final chance to establish itself as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. “We’ve had a decent start,” said manager Adrian Heath. “We have to go on and, I’ve I said before, [with the first] five games away if we were to get seven or nine points we would’ve been delighted with that. We have the opportunity to do that this weekend. We know it’s going to be tough, if we play well, play like we can, we’re capable.”

The New York Red Bulls are expected to provide a challenge similar to the New England Revolution, who handed the Loons a defeat last time out. “They will be revved up at the weekend,” said manager Adrian Heath of the opponent. “They’ve got good young players, they’ve got really good energy about the team. The fact that they’ve lost two league games and lost the CONCACAF [Champions League] game — three defeats on the trot — if anything, it’s only going to make them more determined.”

The Red Bulls currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference on four points. Their early season struggles seem to mirror those of the Revolution, potentially signs of another trap game. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone believes his side will have an improved mentality as they return to the East Coast on Saturday. “We went [to New England] with a winning mentality,” he said. “We didn’t manage to do what we wanted. They put us under pressure which changed the plan last minute and we basically didn’t deal with it. You learn from your mistakes.”

If the Loons are to learn from their mistakes, they may have to do so with slightly different personnel. Darwin Quintero is listed as questionable after he left Wednesday’s training session early with an apparent groin injury and Miguel Ibarra carries the same designation. Kevin Molino is also questionable as he awaits his return from a torn ACL.

Heath expressed optimism that Quintero would be able to play on Saturday, but there is a definite possibility that the Colombian playmaker will miss the match.

Staff Predictions

John Stephenson: NY 3-1 MIN

Zak Lippert: NY 2-1 MIN

Ashle Norling: NY 2-1 MIN

Colin O’Donnell: NY 0-0 MIN

Jacob Schneider: NY 3-1 MIN

Seth Steffenhagen: NY 2-2 MIN

Tim McLaughlin: NY 2-0 MIN

Eli Hoff: NY 1-1 MIN

Judson Lohman: NY 2-0 MIN

How are you feeling about Saturday’s match? Have a prediction? Let us know in the comments section below!