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Preview: MNUFC heads back down to Houston to open Phase Two

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After a tough road loss in Kansas, the Loons look to bounce back against Dynamo.

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

We’re not in Kansas anymore folks and thank god for that, however we’re also not at home. Minnesota United faces Houston Dynamo for the second time during this weird 2020 season. And what’s more weird, it’s also back in Houston. And there has been jokes on Twitter of this being a conspiracy to keep Christian Ramirez from playing at Allianz Field.

Manager Thoughts:

And while that may be a little lighthearted prod at it, Adrian Heath does not feel the same lighthearted tone. In fact the gaffer is quite upset, and rightfully so, about the situation.

“It seems ridiculous that we’re going there again. When I look at how many games we’ve played at home and how many we’ve played away, I’m at a loss. I know it’s difficult with the situation that we’re in but, as I said, I don’t know why we’re going back to Houston when we were only there two weeks ago. It’s never easy there, it never is. We know that. You look at this league, most of the teams they got most of their points at home. That’s not just us, that’s a fact within the league. It’s never easy, conditions always seem to be really, really hot. But the bottom line is, as I’ve said to the players, we know our away form the last few weeks has not been what we expect, it’s not been good enough. That’s it. We can right that and get back to what we were earlier on in the season when we were very difficult to beat either at home or on the road. We need to get back to that. Hopefully with the team that we’ve brought out this weekend, we’ll be better prepared for the challenge that’s coming.”

Performance to this Point:

Adrian Heath was very up front on what MNUFC needs to do, just get better. The last five matches are by far not the worst stretch that Minnesota, but it’s also not good. The Loons are 2-3-0 in their last five matches, with the three losses all coming on the road and being outscored a combined 7-1 away from Allianz Field in that stretch. However this has changed in the last three matches, where MNUFC has outscored their opponents 7-4. One thing of course that happened to help turn that was a change in goalkeeper, as the Loons went from Greg Ranjitsingh to Dayne St. Clair starting. This has absolutely helped Minnesota on the defensive effort and while MNUFC has been scoring, they still have issues scoring from the striker/9 position.

Houston on the other hand comes in doing very well in their last 5. 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw is the stretch the Dynamo come in on, and that of course includes a win over MNUFC at BBVA Stadium. In those last five matches Houston has had an astounding offensive output scoring 12 goals. The defense has not been too shabby either allowing only 6 goals over those five outings. That five game stretch, which has actually included all of Houston’s wins in 2020, has pushed Dynamo up to a 3-3-5 record with 14 points. A combination good enough for 8th place and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Players to Watch:

After some tough choices the past few weeks this one isn’t so hard. For Minnesota United my pick on who to watch is Midfielder, Kevin Molino. In the last five games he has notched two goals and two assists, but has been involved in every scoring play in the last three matches. Molino currently leads the team with five goals and is second in assists (behind only Jan Gregus) with three.

As for Houston I would watch former Loon, Darwin Quintero. Quintero was traded from MNUFC to Houston in November of 2019 just as the offseason began. But with Houston, Quintero has been on fire as of late. He has three goals and four assists along with 14 shots (6 SOG) in Dynamo’s last five games. With his current pace Darwin would be on pace to beat both his 2018 and 2019 totals he had with Minnesota. Also honourable mention goes to watching another former Loon playing for Houston, Christian Ramirez.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: Jacori Hayes and Aaron Schoenfeld
  • Out: Tyler Miller, Ike Opara, Ethan Finlay, Luis Amarilla, Ozzie Alonso, and Greg Ranjitsingh

Houston Dynamo

  • Questionable: Wilfried Zahibo (right thigh)
  • Out: Michael Salazar (right knee)