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Preview | #COLvMIN


Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC

Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO

03.18.2022 | MLS Week No. 4 | MLS Game #3

8:30 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass - Free, 1500 ESPN)

Hello, fellow waterfowl enthusiasts. While a draw versus New York Red Bulls wasn’t the ideal result, it is nice to see the Loons have already registered four points in the Western Conference standings to start the season. This weekend, the boys will ironically be heading west to face their inner-conference foes, the Colorado Rapids. The last time these two squads met was an intense, high-scoring game that saw Colorado take down Minnesota with four goals to three. Now, we’ll dig into some of the keys for this Saturday’s game, as the Loons hope to avoid a repeat in the Rockies.

Keys to the Match

Early Birds:

While it’s an incredibly small sample size, and they’re also missing their #10 in the midfield, the MNUFC attack has shown a noticeable intensity in the first half of their contests so far. Two games can’t exactly paint the big picture in terms of how the frontline attack will fare in the early goings of the season, but the frontline combo of Ménder García in the striker role with the trio of Fragapane, Lod and Hlongwane supporting just behind him has shown promise in the 4-2-3-1 formation the Loons have run with in their first two contests of the year. Hlongwane’s goal against the Red Bulls was an especially welcome sight to see so early in the new campaign. Throughout last season, Bongi showed flashes of his scoring potential. This season, the Loons will look for him to take his game to the next level by converting on those scoring opportunities when they present themselves. It’s early, but with the uncertainty of what this attack would look like without Emanuel Reynoso in the lineup, it feels like it's at least trending in the right direction out of the gates. 

Momentum Matters:

Through the first three games of their 2023 campaign, the Colorado Rapids are both winless and scoreless. Those results are not for lack of effort, though, as they held up well for a large portion of their last game against San Jose before giving up the deciding goal. Obviously, the Loons enter this contest on the other end of the spectrum, although they’ve had one less game to show for the season. Even so, for a Colorado team that came into the season looking for answers on who in their attack would produce in the scoring department, MNUFC looks to have the psychological advantage. However, that can be a double-edged sword when a down-and-out opponent is hungry to change the course of their fortunes. With the contest taking place so early in the 2023 schedule, we shouldn’t expect any kind of letup from our boys; the expectation is that they will pounce on the opportunity to keep Colorado out of the net and out of the win column. 

Be On Guard:

Even though it’s been just two games, it's encouraging to see the impact new additions Mikey Tapias and Zarek Valentin have brought to the Loons’ backline so far. Both bring a level of experience and a bit more stability to a defensive lineup that felt like it was in flux throughout the 2022 season due to a rash of injuries to key players like Bakaye Dibassy. Adding more defensive depth in 2023 should help to avoid the injury bug bite of last season. But if there’s one thing that this unit will look to do this season, it will be stopping quick scores out of the half. Failing to stop the opposition’s attack from coming out of the second half gates to grab a quick score is something that happened a handful of times down the stretch last season, leading to disappointing results in the end. The goal from New York early in the second half of last week’s match proved there is still work to do. Regardless of being scoreless on the season through three games, this season’s backline will have to match the intensity of an opponent’s fast start out of the locker room. Hopefully, as they play more games together, they will forge the kind of unit that bends without breaking and prevents losing points in the standings. Especially facing a scoreless Rapids squad.