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Preview: Minnesota United vs Real Salt Lake

Loons return home after three match road trip to try and break winless streak

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

For the third and final time this season, Minnesota United meets up with Real Salt Lake to do battle in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer. After being as high as tied for first in the standings the Loons have fallen to seventh and are now in the battle just to make the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. At this point MNUFC really can’t afford to let points go if they want to make the playoffs two years in a row for the first time in MLS and first time overall since 2013-14 in the NASL.

Performance to this Point:

As mentioned MNUFC are not doing super hot as of recently, it could of course be worse though. After four straight losses (including the MLS Is Back Semi-Finals) the Loons won their next two games 4-0 (over RSL) and 3-2 (over FCD). But since those two wins the team has lost two and drawn one for a 2-2-1 record in their last five. The one solace of those performances is they lost both games by a single goal whereas the lost by an average of two in that four match losing streak.

The opponents on the other hand actually have a fairly similar pace in their last five. RSL has two wins and three losses in that time span. The big difference is those losses have been by four, five, and one goal with the wins being by three and two goals. Real Salt Lake are also sitting in a spot very close to MNUFC in the standings. In fact being one spot below the Loons in 8th place with a 4-4-5 record and 13 points entering tonight’s showdown.

Manager Thoughts:

Adrian Heath has had a tough job in 2020 having to prepare for so many matches in such a short amount of time. And he himself is not a fan of the highly condensed schedule because of the lack of preparation time.

“There’s no set way of doing it. It’s too many games in a short period of time. Sometimes I feel for the players a little bit because it’s 36 hours after a game, you’re still recovering and then you’re on a plane to another game so it’s not ideal but it’s going to be the same for everybody. Hopefully we get a few more bodies fit, it’s been nice to see a few of the guys running around who we haven’t had for the last couple weeks. We need a clean bill of a health and if we do, our depth of squad will show out towards the end of the month.”

Players to Watch:

Minnesota United will be as close to full strength this week as they’ve been in many many weeks. For who to watch for the Loons this week my pick will be Ján Greguš. This will be Greguš first chance to link up with new forward, Kei Kamara, as he was out for the match against Columbus due to red cards. With both of Minnesota’s set piece takers being available for the match look for them, especially the returning Greguš, to create chances in the box for Kamara.

Minnesota United’s defence has held up well against Real Salt Lake so far in 2020 with two clean sheets. That being noted my player to watch for Damir Kreilach. Kreilach leads the team in goals, shots, and shots on goal. With 29 shots, 13 SOG, and 6 goals in 2020 he can be a very dangerous player as 44.83% of his shots are on target (third best on the team) and 46.15% of his shots on target score. With his overall scoring percentage being 20.7% (second highest on the team) the Loons are going to want to watch out and make sure he’s taking bad shots as if given the opportunity there is a good chance he can score.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

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

Real Salt Lake

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Giuseppe Rossi and Everton Luiz

NOTE: Minnesota’s Jose Aja is out for the match due to Yellow Card accumulation.