Latest News

Loons Must Avoid Being Orlando’s Rebound


Greetings, fellow bird-watching enthusiasts! If you’re reading this, then you already know…the Loons look different this season. Granted, the Loons season is only two matches old, but few could have predicted just how fast the transition away from the off-the-ball, counter-attacking strategy and into more of an aggressive, high-pressing approach would come about, especially without their permanent head coach on the sidelines. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see the Loons take so quickly to such a drastically different approach to the game, and a great deal of credit must be given to interim head coach Cameron Knowles. To say the former MNUFC2 head man has risen to the occasion feels like an understatement, especially when you consider the unique circumstances surrounding the club’s coaching search. And, after seeing the results of his leadership and guidance in implementing this new style through the first couple matches of the season, it’s clear that Knowles has been a big reason for the squad’s hot start. But, the happenings don’t get much smaller with a new week underway, with the Black and Blue looking ahead to a tough matchup on the road against one of last season’s biggest surprises out of the Eastern Conference, Orlando City SC. Oh, and though he won’t be on the sidelines for a few more games, new head coach Eric Ramsay is scheduled to arrive in Minnesota at some point this week…so yeah, kind of a big deal of a week for the Loons. But, before that happens, let’s talk about the swamp Lions, shall we?

| Run of Form

Minnesota United FC

Run of Form: D-W (All Competitions)

Two matches in, and there are way too many adjectives that could be used to describe the Loons performances after following up a stunning win in the opener against Austin with a downright unbelievable 1-1 draw with the 2023 MLS Cup champions, the Columbus Crew. But, young striker and new folk hero Tani Oluwaseyi’s equalizer at the death of stoppage time wasn’t simply great from a “hey, we tied the champs” standpoint. What stuck out even more to me in such a pressure-filled moment was the overall poise that the Loons played with in that moment. They pushed on a Columbus team that was wearing down in those final minutes, and even with a number of the squad’s younger talent on the pitch, MNUFC remained poised in the face of adversity. And, especially after having such a rough go of things at Allianz Field throughout the 2023 season, this was a refreshing and impressive way to welcome the home crowd back to the friendly confines in 2024.

Orlando City SC

Run of Form: D-L-D (All Competitions)

To much of the league’s surprise, Oscar Pareja’s squad certainly punched above their weight in 2023. Many would say they over-performed from a statistical standpoint, but regardless, I’d find it hard to believe that many folks had Orlando City locking down the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference before kicking off 2023. But this is 2024, and the Lions potential has now evolved to bigger expectations. Unfortunately, Blackburn Rovers struggles with properly submitting their paperwork, as the proposed six-month loan meant for Duncan McGuire would ultimately fall through, and the scoring threat will remain with Orlando in 2024. As for the start to the season, it’s tough to say if we can truly gauge the Lions form in this start to the new season. A scoreless tie with Montréal to open the season, followed by a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Inter Messi, (in which there was a real life example of adding insult to injury, courtesy of Messi himself) don’t exactly do justice to the talent on the Lions roster. But, seemingly to the Loons advantage, Orlando City has already faced a tough test this week, after kicking off their CONCACAF Champions Cup action with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against LIGA MX powerhouse Tigres on Tuesday evening. Hopefully, Tigres tapped all the intensity out of Orlando before Saturday’s date with the Black and Blue.

| Keys to the Game

A Youth Movement

The new-look Loons have surprised in a variety of ways in their first couple matches of the season, but one of the biggest sea changes to the way things are done on the pitch has been the club’s willingness to bring on some of the roster’s young prospects in the second half of action. And, if the desire was to build trust in those young fellas to contribute in critical situations, count me amongst the believers. Tani Oluwaseyi’s goal at the death against Columbus felt a bit more pivotal than most to the Loons. Not just because it got us a point in the standings, but because it showed how capable even the youngest prospects can play in the grand scheme of this season, and beyond. Yes, there is a LOT of season to go, but even those who fear change probably have to feel good about the ability of the reserves to inject another burst of energy into the squad’s second-half efforts.

Which VIPs Will RSVP?

While the club can certainly take some comfort in having seen its lesser-proven talent provide a jumpstart on the pitch over the first two games, that doesn't mean the squad and its fans aren't also chomping at the bit to see what the likes of Bongi and Reynoso can add to this fast-paced approach. Sang Bin may be doing his best to add his name to the list of Loons players to be considered a VIP to the team’s long-term success, but having the speed of a Bongi and the next-level ball control of a Reynoso cannot be underestimated. Nor can a healthy Robin Lod, who’s TOTM performance from week one was further proof that this roster has only scratched the surface with just how dangerous this unit can become to opposing defenses.

Deal With Duncan

If the impressive stats from Orlando City’s 2023 squad can provide any keys to stopping the Lions, it should be clear that Duncan McGuire is the stick that stirs the drink. After notching a team-high 17 goals in 2023, McGuire is already up to no good just a couple games into 2024, having netted two goals in his first two matches of the season. And, with the Loons making an effort to push and play further up the field, it will be on the boys on the backend that need to keep their heads on a swivel if they hope to thwart any scoring threats McGuire can create.


Orlando City SC vs. Minnesota United FC

03.09.2024 | Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. CT | MLS Matchday No. 4

INTER&CO Stadium | Orlando, Florida

Watch: AppleTV - MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN