MNUFC2 v. North Texas SC
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
09.03.2022 | MLS NEXT Pro Game No. 22
6:00 p.m. CT | Streaming on www.mlsnextpro.com
Following their home loss to Houston Dynamo 2 last weekend, MNUFC2 are ready to rebound against another opponent from the Lone Star State. Following the MNUFC game against FC Dallas this weekend, MNUFC2 will be taking on North Texas SC at Allianz Field in yet another Minnesota vs. Texas double-header.
Saturday’s match will be the third meeting between these squads this season. In each of the prior two matchups, North Texas took all three points. Each of those matches were played in Texas, making this weekend’s tilt North Texas SC’s first trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The first meeting of these teams was MNUFC2’s first ever MLS NEXT Pro game. Despite the excitement of embarking on this new journey, the Loons fell by a 3-1 scoreline. Justin McMaster scored the lone Loon goal, the first in MNUFC2 history.
By the time they met again in June, MNUFC2 had just seen their eight-game unbeaten run come to an end. Their second trip to Choctaw Stadium saw them fall 4-0, their second road loss in a row. However, in soccer, the scoreline doesn’t always tell the whole story of the game. Head coach Cameron Knowles remembered some positives from his team’s previous run-ins with North Texas.
“We go back this week looking at the videos of the last two times we’ve played them and both those games, we had a number of early chances that we failed to capitalize on and were punished for our mistakes in the end,” Knowles said. “Much like Tacoma [Defiance], this is a very good team in terms of preventing the opposition from having chances. They’re [North Texas] probably fifth or sixth in goals conceded and then on the other side, they’ve got a high conversion rate in their chances. So, we know that we have to be clinical when we get the opportunities when we create those chances, and we’ve got to really limit the amount of opportunities they get, very similar to what we did against Tacoma”
With an opportunity to get revenge on a Western Conference rival, the Loons are more than up for the challenge this weekend. Coach Knowles has been happy with his team’s mentality during their preparation this week.
“We had a long week of training and it was a good week of training,” he said. “The guys’ attitudes have been really good and I think we’re all looking forward to this game. There’s a lot riding on it. We have to win to have a chance at the playoffs and obviously, there’s a lot of disappointment on the back end of the last result [versus Houston Dynamo 2]. The guys have come in, they’ve worked and so we’re all excited for the game tomorrow.”
Just three games remain in MNUFC2’s first ever season. The playoffs are not yet out of reach, but the Loons will have to win out and hope that some results elsewhere go their way if they want to snag that final playoff spot. Despite the uncertainty around their postseason fate, Coach Knowles believes that his team understands and can handle the situation.
“The important part is just channeling all our energy into positive outcomes in the game,” he said. “Making sure it doesn’t result in a lack of discipline or anything like that. We’ll still have some moving pieces with it being a doubleheader and the potential for players being added late that we’ll have to manage, but I think everyone understands the importance of the game. Everyone is ready for the challenge of the game and I think we’ll see that. We should see that right from the start and the energy that the guys bring to it and the quality and intensity they bring to the game.”
With so much on the line, the Loons will need good support in the stands this weekend. For those unable to come out to Allianz field to watch in person, all MNUFC2 games can be streamed for free at www.mlsnextpro.com.