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Preview: MNUFC vs Real Salt Lake

The Loons look to win for the first time since leaving Orlando, against a team they’ve already faced once in 2020

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Minnesota United is still looking to bounce back after the loss to Orlando City back at the beginning of August. Tonight the Loons face Real Salt Lake, whom they’ve already drawn this season and who is having their own issues.

The four straight losses for Minnesota United FC have not been kind to the club who started 2020 unbeaten (4-0-3) in their first seven matches. That unbeaten streak of course included the first two matches of the original MLS schedule, the MLS is Back group stage, and the first two matches in the knockout stage. Since a 3-1 loss to Orlando Adrian Heath and Co. has not been able to get their groove back.

“We had a decent start, didn’t we, and now, we’re in a little bad patch. If you look around the league, there’s a few teams, who, at this moment in time, are not playing like they are. And, I’m trying to put my finger on why we have gone from where we were in the Disney tournament, which, I thought we were excellent, and, really dissapointed that we didn’t even go on and win it. Because, I thought we were playing well enough to do. So, to now be back in the regular season, you know, and one game at home and we turned that over by not playing particularly well, and the two away, defeats, have not been good enough. So, we’ve got to roll our sleeves up and get sorted, have a look at what’s going wrong, and hopefully put it right.”

In the three matches since leaving Orlando, Minnesota has been outscored 8-2. One of those three is an own goal so in three matches MNUFC has only managed one goal of their own doing in that time period. That doesn’t even bring up the Loons poor defensive effort in the past few matches either, something that was almost the entire topic of the press conference with Adrian Heath after the loss to Houston, and is still the case with how RSL’s offense can be.

“They’ve got good players. I’m a big lover of [Albert] Rusnak. He’s a good player. They’ve got wide guys who can run. Corey Baird has got pace. [Damir] Kreilach can get wide and send balls into the box. So, they’ve got good attacking pieces. It’s strange, because I know that the dynamics in the dressing room, sometimes, what’s gone on, over the last few weeks, what’s gone on, can actually galvanize a group and bring them together. And, certainly, they didn’t give in the other night. They kept going. And, you saw the response from the group, not only from the people on the field. They’ve got a good thing going at this moment, so, it’ll be a tough game for us on Sunday.”

They key tonight will be how to shut down RSL and capitalize on what’s been going on over in Utah. You can check out our friends (on any night we don’t play Real Salt Lake) and sister site RSL Soapbox for everything that’s been going on surrounding Utah Soccer Holdings.

Another question surrounding the Loons is whether or not Reynoso will see more playing time than he did on Wednesday. That night he was 24ish hours out of quarantine and saw around 20 minutes of playing time as a substitute. Ethan Finlay came on in the sub group before Reynoso took the field but got to spend a good amount on the pitch with him against Houston Dynamo.

“He’s a dynamic player. A lefty. Someone who’s going to give us a different look. He’s got pace, good dribbling. I haven’t seen quite his free kicks, but I think on set pieces he’s going to give us another dynamic as well. We’re excited he’s a part of this group and he’s going to join us at a time when we need a little bit on an injection of some life into us right now and I hope he can bring that for us.”

Injecting a bit of life is exactly what this Minnesota team needs right now. With the starting keeper out for the season, the defense being eaten alive at every point, and the offense having seemingly no direction or finishing ability, life is definitely needed. And let’s hope that Bebelo is part of the answer to that question.

Injury Report:

Minnesota United FC

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Ike Opara (undisclosed), Tyler Miller (hip), Aaron Schoenfeld (undisclosed)

Real Salt Lake

  • Questionable: None
  • Out: Christopher Garcia (Non Soccer Injury)

Minnesota United will play Real Salt Lake tonight at 7:00 PM CT on FOX Sports North and SKOR North. If you are out of market you can also catch the match via MLS Live on ESPN+ (US) or MLS Live on DAZN (Canada).