Minnesota United returns home to Allianz Field Sunday evening for the first time in MLS play since May 28 (a 1-0 loss to NYCFC) and will host a formidable opponent in third-place Real Salt Lake. Minnesota snapped a three game losing streak on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory at LA Galaxy, but the three point result came at a cost: Kervin Arriaga will be out two to four weeks with an ankle injury suffered in the 2nd minute and Joseph Rosales is now serving a suspension for a red card received in an after-action melee (he’d been given his first yellow just minutes before the whistle). Going into the weekend in 11th place, with a 6-3-8 record and 21 points, a win on Sunday could see Minnesota jump up a few places in the standings and reset their playoff hopes.
Despite a poor start, Real Salt Lake has been on a tear since bringing Pablo Mastreoni on board. The club has gone 3-1-1 in their last five matches, improving to 8-5-4 and 29 points, just 2 points below 2nd place Austin FC and 7 points below Western Conference leaders LAFC. With a 2-4-3 road record, RSL will not be easily fazed by what’s likely to be a flustered home crowd at Allianz Field. Like Minnesota, they’ve scored 20 goals this season with a number of playmakers. They are also maintaining this performance with injury issues of their own: Forward Bobby Wood, who is tied with Justen Glad and Sergio Cordova for leading scorer with 3 goals apiece, is out for at least two months with an injury. Captain Damir Kreilach is out for the season following back surgery. It would be easy to cite injuries and a change in management for a drop in performance but RSL has brought a true next-man-up mentality to their game and are in a position to coast into the postseason.
“Since Pablo [Mastreoni] took over they have done particularly well. They are a very, very solid MLS outfit. They are like Colorado last year. They have started well and they have kept that momentum going,” Adrian Heath said. “The games against them are always very tight. I don’t expect anything different, especially with the few injury situations we are dealing with. I’m always glad to get back home. I know this year has been a bit challenging for us. At home we are more than a match for anybody.”
Defender DJ Taylor thinks the win at LA Galaxy might set the right tone: “I think it helps the guys, being able to reach out to each other and us to connect and just build our trust in where we want to be the rest of the season and makes sure we finish it right. I think it was important to definitely help us moving forward.”
Minnesota United FC
Out: Joseph Rosales (red card suspension), Kervin Arriaga (ankle), Hassani Dotson (knee, Out for the Season), Niko Hansen (thigh), Romain Metanire (thigh), Patrick Weah (knee)
Real Salt Lake
Questionable: Bret Halsey (ankle)
Out: Zack Farnsworth (right ankle), Damir Kreilach (back), Bobby Wood (abductor), Diego Luna (international duty, U-20 USYNT)