MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. ORLANDO CITY SC
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
05.27.17 | MLS Week #13 | MLS Game #13
7:00 p.m. CT (My29, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)
MIN: 3-7-2; 3-3-0 at home
ORL: 6-4-2; 1-3-1 on the road
This week, Minnesota United welcomes visiting Orlando City on Saturday, May 27 for a Pride Night match that kicks off at 7:00 p.m. MNUFC will be looking to recapture the form that saw them defeat Sporting KC 2-0 at home and pushed Toronto FC to a narrow 3-2 loss on the road before falling to LA Galaxy 2-1 last week. The match will be broadcast on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN with pre-match coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Although the two teams don’t have much shared history on the pitch, off the pitch, connections abound. MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath became the manager of the USL-1 Austin Aztex in 2008, guiding the team as they moved to Orlando and the USL and eventually into MLS and through their first two years in the league. When Heath came to Minnesota, he was joined by former Orlando City assistants Ian Fuller and Mark Watson. And one of Minnesota United’s most promising young players, Kevin Molino, was acquired via transfer in the offseason from Orlando. Heath, though, is trying to keep everything as consistent as possible for his squad.
“You do the same stuff,” he said when asked about preparation for the match. “I think one of the most important things is that you put your personal feelings to one side. The most important thing for us this weekend is to get three points, and if we play like we did at the weekend, I think we’ll go very close to doing that. So no, the preparation will be exactly the same. We’ll try and give the lads as much information as we can about the team that they’re playing, individually and collectively, and then see if we can come up with one or two ways to give them one or two problems.”
One of the problems Minnesota will have to deal with is Orlando’s Cyle Larin, one of the league’s brightest young stars and a striker who happens to have a nearly identical stat line to Minnesota’s own Christian Ramirez so far — each player has seven goals and one assist, with Larin having taken 18 shots on goal out of 28 total shots and Ramirez with 17 shots on goal out of 34 total shots.
“He’s got really good instincts in the box,” said Ramirez of his counterpart. “He knows where the defenders are always at, so he’s always looking over his shoulders to make sure his spacing is right. And if you give him a chance, he’ll put it away. So I know our defense has a tough task ahead. Luckily, I don’t have to face him — I get to be up the field. But I know Brian [Kallman] and [Francisco] Calvo are looking forward to that challenge.”
Ramirez has definitively answered the challenge of stepping up to MLS from NASL, where he scored 50 goals in regular season play from 2014–16. His seven goals have him tied for fifth in the league, and several of the chances that have gone begging for him will likely become goals in the future as he builds on his experience in MLS.
“Defenders are more physical,” he said of the move from NASL. “They’re a bit smarter tactically. You find yourself always being marked or having to constantly check your shoulder and move to make sure that your spacing and your positioning is right. You get less opportunities in this league to punish teams, so when you get those opportunities, it’s crucial that you put your chances away. I think as I get more and more time in this league, I’ll start to sharpen that up.”
With 22 shots and 12 corners last week against LA Galaxy, MNUFC hasn’t wanted for opportunities in front of net, but Heath — a former striker himself — is well aware of the delicate balance between opportunism and urgency that forwards have to navigate.
“I think it’s one of the things that you have to be really careful about with forwards — to continually talk about putting them under pressure about scoring goals — because then it can become an issue and a mental thing,” he said. “Having been through it myself, you’re best just getting on and letting them come through it. You know, if we keep creating the number of chances we did on Sunday, then we’ll win more games than we lose.”
Minnesota United will have to keep creating those chances this week without rookie Abu Danladi, who’s come on strong in the last few weeks after getting his first MLS start against Sporting KC in Week 10. The Ghanaian native has racked up a goal and two assists in his three starts so far, but came away from last week’s match with a groin injury that Heath says is day-to-day but likely to keep him out two to four weeks.
Heath was quick to emphasize how invaluable the supporters at the home matches have been for MNUFC, saying, “I think it was a great showing from them. Not only in the numbers at the weekend, but the noise in the stadium was probably the best it’s been. What I did say to the players after, we gave them something to cheer. We gave them something to get behind. If there’s a lesson to be taken from that, those supporters will get behind us, but we have to give them something.”
Following the match this weekend, MNUFC hits the road to face Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, June 3. The match kicks off at 4:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN, with pre-match coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. on the latter.
OUT: M - Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)
OUT: D - Thomas De Villardi (left achilles)
OUT: F - Abu Danladi (right adductor)
OUT: M - Rasmus Schuller (left thigh)
Orlando City SC
OUT: D - Kevin Alston (knee injury)
- Orlando Head Coach Jason Kreis is one of just eight coaches in league history with over 100 career wins. He has the most wins of any current coach in MLS.
- Orlando is winless in the month of May, with three losses and two draws. The Lions have been outscored 12-4 in that stretch.
- Minnesota has scored multiple goals in six of its 12 matches.
- Christian Ramirez and Cyle Larin are tied for fifth in MLS with seven goals this season.
- 30% of Kaka’s shots have been goals.
- Molino had 11 goals and 9 assists when he played for Orlando.
- Bobby Shuttleworth is tied for the 9th most saves in the league with 30.
- The Loons have won the possession battle in their last two matches.
- Orlando is 17th in MLS in goals for average (1.17 goals per match) and 8th in goals against average (1.42). Minnesota is 11th in goals for average (1.50) and 22nd in goals against average (2.50).
- Minnesota has scored 12 of its 18 goals between the 46th and 75th minute.
- Orlando is most vulnerable in the final half hour of a match, having conceded eight of its 17 goals against in that time frame.
- Minnesota leads the league with 13 second half goals.
- The Loons are perfect when scoring first, with a 2-0-0 record. Orlando has not won when conceding first, going 0-4-1.
- Orlando is very good in close matches, boasting a 5-1-0 record in one-goal matches.
- Adrian Heath coached Orlando from 2010 to 2016. Heath led the club to two USL titles, three Commissioner’s Cups. Minnesota Assistant Ian Fuller was on his Orlando staff from 2011 to 2015 before joining the Loons.
- Kevin Molino played for Orlando from 2011 to 2016. He won two USL MVP awards with the Lions.
- Luis Gil and Christian Ramirez are both natives of Garden Grove, California
- Kevin Alston was a long-time teammate of Bobby Shuttleworth’s on New England Revolution from 2009 through 2015.