MNUFC2 v Real Monarchs
National Sports Center Stadium | Blaine, MN
08.21.2022 | MLS NEXT Pro Game No. 20
8:00 p.m. CT | Streaming on www.mlsnextpro.com
An exciting win over the top team in the Western Conference moved MNUFC2 to sixth place last week. The Loons went from a 1-0 deficit to clinching the 2-1 win with a phenomenal stoppage time goal by Sagir Arce. The home victory gave the Loons three points and contributed some fuel to their growing confidence. On Sunday, the boys look to add to their three-game unbeaten streak and move up the rankings in the match against Real Monarchs.
Last week's game against Tacoma Defiance was a nailbiter, and the team pulled together to beat an extremely difficult opponent. “Obviously, to get a win against a top team in the league and a team that scores so many goals over the course of the season is really good,” said Head Coach Cameron Knowles. “It was a good performance from the guys and was good to stick with it for 90 minutes and believe that the equalizer was coming when we went down, and not to let the game get away from us. So, it was a really good performance.”
After a few tough losses in the midseason, some redemption was needed, and boy, did MNUFC2 fight for it. Winning against Tacoma Defiance is proof that this team can beat anybody, which is a great mindset to have as the postseason closes in.
“I don’t think there’s a team that we’ve played against that we look at and we go, ‘man, I don’t know how we would beat them,’” said Knowles. “We look at moments of all of the games and the teams that we’ve played against, and we can go toe-to-toe with anyone. We showed that last week. I think there’s a lot of belief in the group that over the course of the remaining games that if we’re switched on, if we put in a really good performance, we can match any team in this league.”
The Loons next opponent, Real Monarchs, have struggled this season. Currently ranked tenth in the Western Conference, the Monarchs are eliminated from the playoffs and have yet to win a road game. Though the odds may be in the Loons favor, if this league has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen in any match. Especially considering that the last time these two teams met, it was a close match with MNUFC2 winning 3-2.
There are only five chances left in the season for MNUFC2 to rack up enough points for a playoff spot. Back-to-back home wins would be great in terms of points and momentum for the boys in black and blue. The good news is, the Loons will have some great chances to earn a place in the postseason, starting with the game against Real Monarchs.
“We’re fortunate that we get to play a couple of teams that are above us, so if we do well in those games, that puts some pressure on them [opposing teams],” said Knowles. You look at the schedule of the teams that are already above the line, they don’t have an easy run-in either. Anything can happen. I’ve been in this long enough to know anything can happen and it will go down to the end. But, we’ve got to take care of one game at a time.”
With the team playing really well together and an unbeaten streak brewing, things are looking up for the Twos. Real Monarchs show no signs of rolling over now that the postseason is out of their reach, if anything, they are itching for their first road win. The Monarchs will not be an easy opponent, but a necessary one if the Twos want a shot at playing past September this season.