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Preview: MNUFC vs Sporting Kansas City

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MLS Returns . . . Again tonight for MNUFC. This time at Allianz Field

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Tonight Major League Soccer returns . . . again. For the third time after a break soccer comes back for Minnesota United and their fans (including us), and even though it’s been just a few weeks it feels like forever. And this time it’s FINALLY at home at Allianz Field, albeit without fans.

Minnesota United was originally scheduled to open their home schedule back on Sunday, March 15th against the New York Red Bulls. This was to be the teams third match of the season and as of March 9th it was still a go. However just days later as COVID-19 gripped the world Major League Soccer suspended play for what was initially 30 days. That suspension ended up lasting from March 12th until July 8th when the MLS Is Back Tournament kicked off.

When Minnesota was scheduled to open they were on a 2-0 run, now the team is 3-0-2 on the season. So as the Loons prepare for their makeup home opener the team will face perennial Midwestern rival Sporting Kansas City tonight in St. Paul. Adrian Heath made his thoughts public on SKC:

“It’s never easy and, obviously, we have tremendous respect for not only Peter [Vermes] and his staff, but his team. We probably pinched one when we played them down in Orlando and we’ll certainly have to play a lot better than we did that day to get a result. But I’m confident that we will be better. We’ve had four or five games since then, training has been excellent. We’re looking forward to coming back to Allianz, which our home record is terrific. We’re going to have to play well. We don’t fear them but we certainly respect them.”

Heath also let out his thoughts on being back home at Allianz Field:

“You look around, great facility, the field is in absolutely magnificent condition. There’s a little spring in everybody’s step this morning and I think everybody is glad to be back here. We’ve got a lot of good memories of this place. It’ll be nice to get back in here on Friday and for the start of, what we know, will be a difficult few weeks. The training has been excellent, the attitude of the players has been terrific. As I said, it’s great to get back and we’re looking forward to Friday.”

Jan Gregus was also happy to be back home after the bubble:

“We are very happy that we can be finally back on this beautiful pitch. Hopefully it’s going to be a great game for us.”

Chase Gasper is also happy to be back even sans the fans:

“Everyone is ecstatic to be back. We miss our home, we miss those place and we especially miss all the fans so it is a bittersweet feeling to be back on your home field in this amazing stadium, best in the country, but we definitely do miss the fans so it’s bittersweet, but I’d say more sweet to be back home.”

Five matches into the regular season (remember the Knockout Stage of the MLS Is Back Tournament was only for a CONCACAF Champions League spot and did not count towards the standings) SKC currently leads the West at 4-1-0 with 12 points. MNUFC is not far back at 3-0-2 with 11 points on the season. The biggest question right now is how the Loons will play without GK Tyler Miller in net. Another issue for the Loons will be scoring, after 8 goals in their first two matches MNUFC has only managed 10 in their last six outings. One of the 10 was an own goal scored by SKC and four others were scored in one match against San Jose.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: Jacori Hayes (hamstring)
  • Out: Ike Opara (undisclosed), Tyler Miller (hip)

Sporting Kansas City

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Felipe Gutierrez (knee)

Minnesota United will play Sporting Kansas City tonight at 6:30 PM CT on FOX Sports North Plus and SKOR North. If you are out of market you can also catch the match via MLS Live on ESPN+ (US) or MLS Live on DAZN (Canada).