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Preview: Minnesota United at Columbus Crew

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Tonight Minnesota United faces their biggest challenge of the 2020 season to date; An away date with the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shield leading Columbus Crew. This is one of the most important matches of the season to date as well, for both clubs. A win for Columbus keeps them atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shield standings no matter what else happens. A win for Minnesota, pending results from FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, and Seattle Sounders, could help them jump as high as first in the West.

Performance to this Point:

Both teams have had completely different seasons to this point. MNUFC started hot and went to the MLS Is Back Knockout Round, Semi-Finals before losing to Orlando City and then going ice cold. Columbus on the other hand has stayed consistent for all of 2020, and the Crew only have two total losses to date. One in the MLS Is Back Knockout Round to the Loons and the other on August 24th to New York City FC.

In the last five matches Minnesota has gone 2-2-1 in that stretch, a massive improvement from where they were before. And while it is a huge improvement and the team is getting better the injury list is not getting any shorter. So much so that the Loons have brought in multiple players this transfer window and still have had a short bench on more than one occasion.

The Crew’s last five tell a different story than Minnesota’s. Rather than one of getting better it tells one of being consistent. Columbus is 3-0-2 in their last five matches, including a win on Saturday in Nashville to break the expansion side’s four game unbeaten streak.

Manager Thoughts:

Following Sunday nights draw in Houston, MNUFC manager Adrian Heath was asked about the upcoming week and what the plans for the team were heading to face Columbus. Heath elaborated on that and a little on his thoughts about the Crew.

“Well, recovery now. We won’t get back until, what, 2 or 3 in the morning. And then, you know, the next couple of days, the next 36 hours you’re just hoping you can get some recovery into the guys, get some energy back into them and then come up with another big performance against… are they leading the Supporters Shield, I think? Spent an awful lot of money. Well coached. Good pieces all over the field. So, doesn’t get any easier for us. That’s a fact.”

Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter talked to media and the Crew website after their training on Monday about the upcoming match.

“I think this is one that we say, ‘hey, this is going to be a playoff-type feel,’ and it’s important to have some of these games,” Porter said on Monday after training.

“We need to be sharpening our sword for the postseason and we need to be playing really good teams to get ourselves ready while we hopefully continue to get points. So I think this is going to be probably one of the best tests we’ve had since Philadelphia.”

Players to Watch:

This week the player to watch for Minnesota is the clubs newest player, Kei Kamara. With our own Jacob Schneider saying:

“The league veteran is set to make his Loons debut after passing league COVIC-19 protocol and acquiring all paperwork necessary to be a part of the gameday 18. Loons manager Adrian Heath mentioned to media Tuesday afternoon that he’d like to get him [Kei Kamara] minutes on the pitch, whether that’s in a starting or off-the-bench role.”

As for Columbus our player to watch is Gyasi Zardes. Andrew Atkins of our sister site Massive Report said about Zardes:

“He’s one goal behind Diego Rossi in the golden boot chase, and has 4 goals and 2 assists in the past 3 matches. He’s on the best run of his career, and Lucas Zelarayán is expected to be back in his starting role, and they play extremely well together.”

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Tyler Miller, Ike Opara, Ethan Finlay, Luis Amarilla, Ozzie Alonso, and Greg Ranjitsingh

Columbus Crew

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Fanendo Adi, Darlington Nagbe, and Vito Wormgoor