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Preview: Loons host Timbers in pivotal US Open Cup match

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In a midweek meetup the Loons play host to Portland Timbers in their final home US Open Cup match with a trip to Atlanta on the line.

August 4, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Portland Timbers defender Jorge Villafaña (4) goes in with a slide tackle at Minnesota United defender Romain Metanire (19) during the match at Allianz Field.
August 4, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Portland Timbers defender Jorge Villafaña (4) goes in with a slide tackle at Minnesota United defender Romain Metanire (19) during the match at Allianz Field.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Wait, what, we’re playing again!? It felt like we only played two days ago! All jokes aside tonight’s US Open Cup match against Portland Timbers could easily be the biggest match in the history of Minnesota United.

Over the course of the 10 year history of NSC/Stars/United the club has never made it to the US Open Cup Semi-Finals, in fact prior to last season the team had never even made the Round of 16. Prior to this season the furthest a team from Minnesota advanced was in 2004 when the Thunder lost a 2-2 draw, 5-4 on PK’s to the San Jose Earthquakes and followed it up the following year making the Semi-Finals. 2005 saw the Thunder drop that match 5-2 to the LA Galaxy.

The Loons have a chance to make the finals with a win tonight, which would change Minnesota Soccer history and Adrian Heath echoed the competitions importance.

“Around the world, Cup competitions are incredibly important,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I know as a kid growing up, the only thing that I ever wanted to do was play in an FA Cup final and I was fortunate enough to do it a couple times. So, maybe as a foreign coach, I’ve took the Open Cup with a little bit more importance than some people have. I don’t get it for other people but that’s their way of doing it. Even when I go back to Orlando as a USL team, we got to the Quarterfinals two or three times, we knocked two or three MLS clubs out. I think it’s a big opportunity for us and it’s going to be difficult but we are ready for it.”

The biggest prize on the line tonight is a guaranteed payout of $100,000 as the winner will receive that amount if the lost the Final, with the USOC winner getting a $300,000 payout. After last night’s 2-0 win by Atlanta United over Heath’s previous club Orlando City, Atlanta will host the 2019 US Open Cup Finals on August 27th.

If you can’t make it to Allianz Field tonight you can catch the match at 7 PM with coverage starting at 6:45 PM on ESPN+.ESPN+

Staff Predictions:

Ashle Norling: 3-1 Timbers

Seth Steffenhagen: 2-1 Loons

Zak Lippert: 2-0 Timbers

Jacob Schneider: 2-2 Draw, 9-8 Loons on Penalties

Tim McLaughlin: 2-1 Loons

John Stephenson: 2-1 Loons

Colin O’Donnell: 2-0 Timbers