20220514_MNUFC2_Houston_J9105766

MNUFC2 v Tacoma Defiance

National Sports Center Stadium | Blaine, MN

08.15.2022 | MLS NEXT Pro Game No. 19

7:00 p.m. CT | Streaming on www.mlsnextpro.com

MNUFC2 was nearly rained out of its Colorado Rapids 2 match last week. With an already late kickoff time set at 10:59 p.m. CT, the hour-plus weather delay made for an even later night than the Loons had prepared for. The rise in altitude and the lateness of the game could cause any team to crumble, but MNUFC2 stayed strong. The final score was 3-3, and though the boys lost by one goal in the shootout, they still walked away with a point. Now with heads turned to Monday, the Loons have used their week to rest and prepare for their home game against Tacoma Defiance.

Head Coach Cameron Knowles was happy with the team’s performance against the Colorado Rapids. “What a long night for everyone,” said Knowles. “But, when you look at it, the first half I thought the play from the guys was really good. Then, to be down a goal and to come back and get ourselves back in it and get a point on the road at a very difficult place to play is a great result.”

The determination shown against Colorado will be very useful in the upcoming match. Tacoma Defiance is currently sitting at the top of the Western Conference, and is known for their offensive precision with 54 goals scored so far in 2022. In other words, they will be a very tough opponent.

The last time MNUFC2 met Tacoma Defiance, they lost in a close 3-2 away game. Looking at the previous scorecard, the Twos are more than capable of scoring against them; they will just need to make sure they are focused on every opportunity. “We got two against them last time, so there shouldn’t be a problem trying to create those chances. It’s about finishing them,” said Tommy Williamson. “We all need to be looking to play forward first and get numbers in the box and follow up on 50/50 balls. That’s the most important thing. I think just that last-second concentration and finishing will definitely help.”

The Loons have been playing together well recently, and moving as a team unit has been successful on both sides of the pitch. “Out here at our last home game, AZ [Aziel Jackson] scores a goal, but it’s a run from Tommy Williamson that creates a space for him,” said Cameron Knowles. “You’re seeing more of that where they’re being unselfish with their movement for each other and getting the goals and the assists as rewards.”

The coming match will be one of strong defensive discipline and an aggressive attack. The Loons are more than capable of executing that against any team. Tacoma Defiance will be tough to beat, but after putting together such a strong showing in the most difficult conditions, the boys are more than prepared for it.

MNUFC2 is currently 10 points and three spots away from a playoff spot. There are six games left in the season, and the Loons will have to win most of them if they want to see the postseason. Beating the first-ranked team at home would certainly be a good start. However, Tacoma Defiance isn’t going to want to give up their prime spot, and will no doubt pull out all of the stops to keep it. As these teams go head-to-head on Monday, their fight will be driven by different factors, but the clash will be tenacious nonetheless.