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Preview: Minnesota United vs Chicago Fire

After a postponement on Sunday night the Loons get back into action with a clash with the Fire tonight in St. Paul

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Minnesota United comes into tonight’s match with Chicago Fire FC after a bit of a COVID scare for the Loons. The team reported Saturday night that two players on the first team roster had tested positive for COVID-19. However the team has not had any positive tests since then so tonight’s match with the Fire will go on as normal.

Run of Form:

Minnesota comes in on a much tougher run than their opponents tonight. The Loons are 1-3-1 in their last five matches. On a positive note the club has three clean sheets and have only allowed four goals in that stretch. Impressive for a team with the injuries they have. On the negative front is scoring. MNUFC has only scored 5 goals in those five matches and have been shut out twice. Coach Steve went over yesterday how the Loons can fix this issue, which you can check out here.

Chicago on the other hand is one of the most dangerous teams Minnesota United will face in the back half of the 2020 season. Currently the Fire are on a 3-1-1 run in their last five having scored 10 goals in that time and were only shut out once, a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. On the defensive side the Fire are also hot, having only given up four goals and pitched two clean sheets. One thing Chicago will have to overcome tonight, and is a positive for Minnesota, is their lackluster (at best) performance away from home. Outside of Soldier Field the Fire are a dreadful 0-5-3 on the season.

Manager Thoughts:

The Loons face a tough opposition tonight at Allianz Field and Adrian Heath spoke about the Fire and his thoughts on the press call on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s never easy when you’re sort of rebranding the club from the inside and the outside. Because, they’ve virtually, I think it’s 18 new players since the start of last year. You know, they rebranded, they’ve gone back to the big stadium, Solider Field, they’ve had the rebranding. And, I said it at Disney, I think they’re a really well-organized, well-drilled outfit. You know, they’ve got strength in good positions with [Robert] Beric, CJ Sapong, he’s always a handful, [Fabian] Herbers, he’s had a sort of renaissance if you’d like, [Przemyslaw] Frankowski, with his pace in wide areas. They bought some really good competitive and combative midfield players. This is going to be a tough game for us. A well-organized, well-motivated team. For what’s a really important week for us when you look at what’s at stake. Wednesday. Then, at the weekend. Suddenly, you put six points on then, will get us a long way to where we think we’ll need to be for the playoffs. So it’s something that we’ve spoke about. It’s something we could have ill-afforded the three days where we haven’t been able to train in the buildup to this game, but, as I said, I don’t want to use it as an excuse. I want the players to be focused on what we can do about it, not what we can’t.”

Other Notes:

With Ján Greguš being out for what could possibly be the rest of the regular season due to International duty, the Loons are going to be looking at their other midfielders to bring that spark to the team. Emmanuel Reynoso will not only be looked at for his set piece skills but also to help break open the attack. With Ethan Finlay returning to the team from injury, the Duluth native should also help bring a spark to the team and the attack. Both things the Loons desperately need.

Osvaldo Alonso is looking more and more like he may return at any time, and the addition of Ozzie back to the lineup would for sure help the defensive midfield in Heath’s preferred 4-2-3-1. Dayne St. Clair has also eclipsed Vito Mannone’s 259 minute streak without giving up a goal. The youngster has gone 290 minutes heading into tonight’s match with the Fire and he could potentially obliterate the record by more than 100 minutes pending his performance tonight.

Chicago on the other hand will look to continue their dominating offensive performance they’ve shown in the last five matches this season. In the first nine matches of 2020 the Fire only scored 10 goals, matching the output in their last five. Robert Beric is expected to start up top and will be looked at to put the Fire ahead as early as possible. Defensive Midfielder Alvaro Medran will also be looked to feed the ball forward to Beric tonight as the two are the leading scorer (Beric) and assist maker (Medran) for Chicago.

In goal will more than likely be former Loon, Bobby Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth was loaned out to Sacramento Republic by MNUFC in August of 2019 and the club subsequently did not re-sign him in the offseason. Shuttleworth was signed by the Fire in January and has since made 11 starts in the teams 17 games in 2020. He is 4-4-3 in those 11 with 990 minutes played and a SV% of 70.2%.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: Ozzie Alonso
  • Out: Tyler Miller, Ike Opara, Luis Amarilla, and Greg Ranjitsingh

Chicago Fire FC

  • Questionable: Johan Kappelho and Djordje Mihailović
  • Out: Jeremiah Gutjahr, Kenneth Kronholm, Luka Stojanović, and Brandt Bronico