Latest News

MNUFC Resume League Play in New York City

NYCFC vs MNUFC_Game-Preview

NYCFC vs. Minnesota United FC

Citi Field | Queens, New York

8.20.2023 | MLS Matchday No. 24 | MLS Game 23

6:30 p.m. CT (Exclusively on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)

MLS action returns this weekend, with a trip to the Big Apple waiting for the Loons on Matchday 24. Minnesota United will be taking on NYCFC at Citi Field this Sunday in the home team's first game since August 3. Everyone loves playing soccer on a baseball field, right? With a familiar face returning to the Pigeons and plenty of rest in their legs, Nick Cushing’s men will be hoping to start a playoff push before things get out of hand in the Eastern Conference. Likewise, the Loons come into this match just outside of playoff contention and will be looking to make another statement on the road.

Minnesota United -

Run of Form (League matches only): D-W-L-W-D

It’s been a while since we played a league game; let’s take a moment to refresh the memory. Before we broke for Leagues Cup, the Loons picked up eight of the last 15 available points, earning wins against Portland and Houston. The five-game stretch was book-ended by draws against RSL and LAFC, with a tough loss to an in-form Austin side being the only match that MNUFC failed to earn points from during the run. While those results tell us very little about how the team is currently playing, the context is valuable nonetheless. The Loons were on the upswing before the break, and their performance in Leagues Cup proved that they have what it takes to not only win games but score a boatload of goals as well. Nashville game aside, the Black and Blue are playing some great soccer at the moment; they won’t be as well-rested as their hosts, but they definitely have the edge on form.


Run of Form (League matches only): D-W-D-D-L

The Cityzens were struggling a bit before the break from league play, scoring just one goal a game in each of their last five matches. They’re finding the back of the net, but it’s tough to win a lot of games in this league with a 1-0 scoreline. Six points out of 15 isn’t ideal, especially when you’re chasing the pack in a competitive Eastern Conference. A five-goal display against Toronto FC in the group stage saw NYCFC get through to the knockouts, only to once again find their attacking efforts insufficient in a 1-0 loss to the MLS team from New Jersey. The return of Maxi Moralez may help jumpstart the offense and add some consistency, but one thing is for sure: this team needs answers fast. It’s hard to say how they’ll look this weekend, but it’s unlikely they’ll be coming into the match with very much confidence.

Keys to the Match:

Maxi In, Gabriel Out

There’s been movement in the NYC locker room. After returning to his boyhood club in Argentina at the beginning of the season, Maxi Moralez is back in New York City, adding much-needed vision and attacking prowess to an underwhelming offense. But, much like Thanos prefers, the club has balanced his arrival with the departure of leading goal scorer Gabriel Pereira in the same window. Pereira is off to Qatari side Al-Rayyan, leaving his former club with yet another hole to fill and very little means to do so. In his absence, Cushing will be hoping to see talented youngster Talles Magno step up to shoulder the goal-scoring burden while Moralez pulls the strings from the middle of the park. While this will be a familiar NYCFC lineup, the Loons will need to be wary of the connection between these two, especially with the excitement of Moralez’s first game back.

11 vs. 11

Minnesota United hasn’t received a single red card in MLS play during the 2023 season, making them one of just four teams without a sending-off this year. However, Leagues Cup saw the Loons break from that trend, earning three reds in five matches. This is neither the time nor place to argue the validity of said sending-offs, so we won’t be doing that. MNUFC doesn’t need to dial back their aggression or step off the gas per se, but they do need to be more cognizant of the severity of their fouls during Sunday’s match. This is one trend that Adrian Heath and his team will want to leave behind with Leagues Cup; soccer is better when it’s 11 vs. 11.

Look at the Lineup

When the Loons take to the pitch any given night, you expect to see the familiar shape of a 4-2-3-1 formation. For NYCFC, the lineup shifts from game to game, with Cushing tending to alternate between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-2-1. The key difference between these two formations is the wide play that they encourage; a 4-2-3-1 allows wingers to run the channels with fullback support, while a 3-4-2-1 encourages wingbacks to dominate the entire sideline with fewer defensive duties. Wingbacks tend to leave space behind them for balls over the top, perfect for a speedy winger like Bongi. While it likely won’t impact how the Loons line up, NYCFC’s formation decision will dictate how this game plays out. It’s going to be crucial for MNUFC to identify what kind of space their hosts will be leaving open, especially on a tighter than normal pitch at Citi Field.