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Preview: Colorado/Minnesota United

Minnesota and Colorado close out the Group Stage of the MLS Is Back Tournament with an MLS After Dark clash on Wednesday night.

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Minnesota United will look to rebound this week after a nil-nil draw to Real Salt Lake last Friday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Colorado Rapids on the other hand are looking to not go winless during the group stage, which also counts towards the regular season standings.

Unlike last time where the Loons have dominated the series with RSL, it’s much more even with Colorado. MNUFC has a 2-3-1 (W-L-D) record against the Rapids entering the match tonight. That being said Minnesota does have a slight advantage coming in to the match with a 3-0-1 2020 record and 1-0-1 in the Tournament. The Rapids on the other hand are 2-2-0 in 2020 and both of those wins came back in March.

Even with some key defensive figures having been out for the tournament the team has been fairly solid keeping the ball out of the goal. In four matches the team has only allowed four goals, and with a goalkeeper like Tyler Miller manning the net it makes sense considering he makes saves like this.

Or like this from back when he played for Sounders 2 in the USL.

And Adrian Heath certainly like where the team is defensively, stating:

“The one thing I expect out of all the games is our willingness to defend. I don’t just mean the back four, I mean the four up front and the two up top. They’ve shown a great appetite for the hard work and in these conditions, it’s been terrific to see. We put video together of people running back 60 yards just to get back to the goal side of the ball and in these conditions, that’s not easy to do. Their attitude to making tough decisions where I’m going to have to make the effort to get back and help the team out has been fantastic.”

Chase Gasper was also happy with the Loons defensive efforts last Friday night being quoted as saying:

“RSL is a very skilled team and their wingers, they tucked in a lot in pockets in front of the backline so, first and foremost, our communication was the key to our success. We talked about that a lot, leading up to the game, that the communication and being loud, telling the guys in front of you who to cut off and where to move – I think was the key to our success in the game. We didn’t really give their wingers that many opportunities. Although it did end in a tie, I think the team can take that as a huge positive and can take that into our game against Colorado.”

While the Loons have a stout defense the issue is whether or not their offensive output can improve. If you look at Minnesota’s goals scored this season (10) that doesn’t seem bad at all, it averages to 2.5/game. But the issue is that 8 of those 10 were scored in the teams first two games in March. When it comes to that down-tick Eli Hoff said it best:

“There was plenty of time for every team in this league to watch the two March matches of every other team, so it makes sense that Minnesota isn’t surprising its competition with this style of play.”

You can read Eli’s entire breakdown of Minnesota’s struggles with not only scoring but also possession and his views how to fix it here.

After this mornings win for Sporting Kansas City over Real Salt Lake a win for Minnesota tonight over Colorado will secure the Loons Group D without tiebreaker. Currently SKC holds the lead with 6 points, MNUFC is in second (on Goal Differential) with 4 points, RSL now drops to third with 4 points (behind on GD) and Colorado sits in last place with 0 points and has been eliminated from advancing.

Another way MNUFC can guarantee advancing is via a tie or a one goal loss while scoring one or more goals. In either of those situations the Loons would be drawn as the 2 seed and have to face the Group E winner, Columbus Crew, who are 4-0-1 overall in 2020 and 3-0-0 in the tournament.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Ike Opara (undisclosed)

Colorado Rapids

  • Questionable: M – N/A
  • Out: N/A

NOTE: Colorado will be missing two players (MF Jack Price and DF Danny Wilson) due to both players being shown Red Cards in their previous match against Sporting Kansas City.

Minnesota United will play Colorado Rapids tonight at 9:30 PM CT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and TSN. Join our own Eli Hoff and Jacob Schneider with special guest Jeremy Rushing on Periscope at 8:30 PM CT for a one of a kind match preview.