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Preview | A Get-Together Amongst Frienemies


Well, that’s a nice way to put some funday in your Sunday. While last Sunday’s match in Charlotte may have started off a little bit slow, the boys found their groove in 31st minute and didn’t look back, solidifying the win with an early second half goal in the 49th minute by Robin Lod, and then once more with Hassani Dotson’s header just four minutes later. When the dust settled, the boys got the 3-0 victory, resetting their course back into the win column and onward to the friendly confines of Allianz Field to face their most “friendly” rivals in Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night. More often than not, a matchup with Sporting is going to be a closely contested back-and-forth, and in spite of SKC’s less-than-ideal start to the season, I’d expect a competitive effort from the opposition. And for a Loons squad that had been in a bit of a lull prior to their resounding win in Charlotte, they’re returning home with a renewed confidence they’re hoping will propel them to a decisive result on their home turf. So, let’s pontificate, shall we?

| Run of Form

Minnesota United FC (4-2-2)

Run of Form: W-L-D-L-W

Now, that’s more like it, you Loons. After a two-game home stand that saw them settle for a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake and a 2-1 loss to Houston, the Black and Blue was able to rekindle some of the magic they had during the first month of the season. In Charlotte, the boys brought the kind of aggression on the attack and stability in the back that had been lacking in previous weeks. The match in Charlotte didn’t start out looking like it would be a winning effort, but to the Loons’ credit, the boys were able to persevere through an unstable start to find their footing and finish strong. In the past, a slow start for this club may have spelled trouble for the final results, so it's encouraging to see the Loons adjust to the opposition and, as one of the two Bobs so eloquently put it to Bill Lumburgh…we, uh, fixed the glitch…and overcame. As the cool kids say, ya love to see it.

Sporting Kansas City (2-2-5)

Run of Form: D-L-D-W-L

While the Loons’ lull was short-lived, the same can’t be said for a Sporting Kansas City side that has scored 13 times in the last five games, but has only five points to show for it. It leaves no doubt as to SKC’s ability to find the net, but defensively, they’ve been porous to say the least, allowing just as many goals as they scored in those five matches. Last Saturday’s 3-3 draw with rival St. Louis CITY likely stung a bit more than most, as SKC were leading the contest at the half and then again right on the cusp of full time. Maybe the disappointment will inspire a reenergized effort for the SKC defense…but the current trend seems to indicate that MNUFC will find its share of scoring opportunities come Saturday evening.

| Keys to the Game

Striking Surprise?!

Raise your hand if you were expecting to see Tani Oluwaseyi make his first MLS start at striker in Charlotte last Saturday night. Ok now, all those with their hands raised…you’re lying…but I forgive you. I’m not sure that even the most plugged-in fans saw that one coming, but that’s the beauty of it. Know who else was surprised? The Crown, and it obviously played into the Loons’ hands. Oluwaseyi has undoubtedly been one of the best stories in the league this season and has made the most of every opportunity he’s been given. While the 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick is making his presence known, Pukki is still Pukki. So,will Ramsay opt for the hot hand, or roll with the fine Finn against SKC? Regardless of who occupies the striker position this Saturday, Tani and Pukki are major scoring threats, whether they're in the starting XI or being subbed on to reenergize the attack later in the match.

Creative Strategist

We knew from the get-go that coach Eric Ramsey would bring an approach to the game that would be different than past seasons. Now, it’s looking more like an understatement, as the young gaffer has shown he is anything but hesitant when it comes to taking “risks” by shaking up the lineup to see what clicks and what doesn’t. If you’re wondering why the word “risks” is in quotes, well, that’s because outside the state lines, it's just called strategy. Loons fans had gotten used to a tried-and-true formula under the previous regime, but Ramsay is finding ways to fully utilize the entire roster and keep the opposition guessing. Last weekend, even after a shaky start by the starting XI, the gaffer adapted to the game, tweaking the plan as he went to put the right puzzle pieces in the right places. Hopefully this Saturday shows that Chef Ramsay is cooking up another way for the Loons to feast.

Stay Shifty

Against Charlotte, the Loons were able to evolve from slow start to “game over” once they began shifting their wingbacks and allowing more flexibility to create scoring opportunities as the match progressed. A stellar all-around effort from Dotson, Trapp, and Arriaga in the midfield provided the Loons a lot more space to operate and allowed D.J. Taylor and Joseph Rosales to get up the pitch, and in turn, give Charlotte fits. It may all be dependent on the starting XI that takes the field on Saturday, but giving those wingers or a pinpoint passer like Robin Lod a chance to exploit those wide-open spaces along the sideline can only work to the Loons’ benefit in the attacking third. And, with an SKC defense that’s already reeling, it feels like a similar approach could be the key to giving our friendliest rivals too much handle on the backline.