20220514_MNUFC2_Houston_J9104603

MNUFC2 v. Houston Dynamo 2

Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota

08.27.2022 | MLS NEXT Pro Game No. 21

6:00 p.m. CT | Streaming on www.mlsnextpro.com

For the third time this season, MNUFC2 will be lining up against Houston Dynamo 2 this Saturday. This will be the second time the teams have met in Minnesota, with both matches being played at Allianz Field. 

In the first match between these two on May 14, the score was an even 1-1 after 90 minutes. A 54th minute goal from Talen Maples gave Dynamo 2 the only lead of the game, while MNUFC2’s Aziel Jackson would find the equalizer just seven minutes later. The close match ended up going to a shootout, from which the Loons were able to grab the additional point after a 5-4 shootout win. 

That first matchup was the fifth game of MNUFC2’s eight-game unbeaten run, a burst that saw the team vault their way into playoff relevance. By the time the next date with Dynamo 2 came around, that run was in the rearview and form had cooled off just a bit.

The second contest of the season between MNUFC2 and Dynamo 2 was played at AVEVA Stadium in Houston in July. It was the second consecutive road game for the Loons, adding to the challenge that already lay in front of them. In yet another hard fought match, a stoppage time goal in the first half proved to be the winner for the home team.

In the current league standings, these squads sit on either side of the playoff cutoff. At the regular season’s end, only the top four teams in each conference will advance to the postseason. With Dynamo 2 currently occupying that fourth place spot on 40 points, fifth place MNUFC2 has a seven point gap to make up before the end of the year. 

When they take to the pitch this Saturday, it will be do or die for the Loons as they seek to make up lost ground in their playoff push during their final four games. Head coach Cameron Knowles stressed the importance of this weekend’s result.

“We’re on the outside looking in,” he said. “We’re below that playoff line and if we’re going to get ourselves in the top four, then we have to beat these teams that are above us. These are true six-point games that are coming up with Houston [Dynamo 2] and North Texas. I’m confident with our group. I think they feel like they should have taken more points off those guys earlier in the season and so there’s a lot riding on those games for us.”

Just as Knowles suggested, it appears that his team understands the need to finish the season strong. In their last four games, the Loons have accumulated a record of 2-0-2. In their most recent draw against Real Monarchs, they were able to earn a valuable additional point by winning the ensuing shootout. 

In the four remaining games this season, MNUFC2 will play the two teams that are currently above them in the conference standings, Houston Dynamo 2 and North Texas SC. On top of that, they will end the season against the team directly below them in Earthquakes II. 

With how tight the playoff race is, it is possible that spots are up for grabs on the last day of the season. However, for that to be the case, the Loons will very likely have to win out, or at least keep up the form that has seen them stay in the playoff race all year long. With three home games remaining, including this weekend’s match, MNUFC2 will race to the finish line with the comfort of their home turf. 

This Saturday’s match will be played at Allianz Field following the first team game against Houston Dynamo FC. MNUFC2 will kick off at 6:00 p.m. CT, with the game available for streaming at www.mlsnextpro.com.