Minnesota United hosted Houston Dynamo FC in a nail-biter of a midweek tilt that had the Loons leaving the pitch with three points and a “Wonderwall” serenade from the fans. This 1-0 dub could not have come at a better time for MNUFC, who have narrowly missed winning in front of their home crowd a few times this season. With this home win under their belts, the lads may have just found the spark of confidence they need to begin moving up the tightly-contested Western Conference standings.
“It’s tough to call it a must win, but I think we definitely wanted to win,” said goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. “Especially not having a win at home was definitely weighing on a lot of us, because our fans were so good and supported us through thick and thin. I think being able to share the joy of Wonderwall at the end has been something we have been chasing for a while, and we are looking to go and do well on the road, then continue at home again.”
Midfielder Hassani Dotson would agree that this was an important win for the morale of the team. “It’s a combination with our run of play of four losses, as well as not winning at home in the league,” said Dotson. “There was definitely a little bit of pressure that was there and we put on ourselves. You can just see all of the emotion, all of the relief that the guys had after we got the win.”
MNUFC has some work ahead of them to get back to where they want to be in the standings, but it is far from an impossible feat – especially if this team continues to build their momentum and positivity.
“We all know the way this league works,” said St. Clair. “If you win three or four games in a row, all of a sudden you’re back at the top of the table or close to it. I think it’s just believing in ourselves. We’ve gone through these tough moments in the past. We’ve had good summers where we’ve probably been one of the best teams. We know we have that belief in ourselves.”
Head Coach Adrian Heath has always had full confidence in his team, knowing that the Loons have all the talent they need to get their desired results. “I’ve said to them I know we’re a good team,” said Heath. “Four or five weeks ago, we hadn’t been beaten in the first five games. Three of them were on the road. So we haven't suddenly gone from being a really difficult team to beat to an easy team to play against. We’re not an easy team to play against, and tonight I thought we showed that.”
MNUFC has a very busy schedule ahead, which provides a great opportunity to leap forward in success, but it does come with its own set of challenges – the main one being the health of the team. “We’re trying to manage everybody's load,” said Heath. “You know we go again on Saturday and then we go again on Tuesday. The games are coming thick and fast, and we can’t expect the same group to play.”
Every member of the squad is stepping up to the occasion and prepping to push through the rigorous set of match-ups. “Like you said, it’s controlling our bodies and putting ourselves in the best opportunity to be able to play our role,” said St. Clair. “At the end of the day, the gaffer picks the lineup, and if you are picked up that day or not you just need to be prepared because there’s a lot of games coming up and you never know when your number might get called.”
In an interesting twist of U.S. Open Cup fate, the Loons are slotted to face the Dynamo again on Tuesday – this time in front of Houston’s home crowd. “Whenever you look at the team sheet and you’ve got two of their best players not playing, that's a positive for you. But no doubt they’ll be back for next Tuesday and the fact that they're at home will probably be a different game,” said Heath. “But I think that if we approach them in the right manner and don’t beat ourselves and take opportunities when they come on the road, we’re more than a match for anybody.”
Within a week, Minnesota United could be three points richer and heading to the U.S. Open Cup Round of 8 – only two wins stand before that reality. With a win against the Portland Timbers, the Loons would step into sixth place with 18 points. With a second dub against Houston, MNUFC would be more than halfway to an Open Cup trophy. A busy few days indeed, but an exciting opportunity to pave the way into a stronger summer showing and perhaps grab some silverware on the way.
Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC
Providence Park | Portland, Oregon
05.20.23 | MLS Week No. 14 | MLS Game 13
9:30 pm CT (Watch)