FC Dallas vs. Minnesota United FC
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, TX
02.25.2022 | MLS Week No. 1 | MLS Game #1
7:30 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass - Free, 1500 ESPN)
Hello, fellow waterfowl enthusiasts. It’s about that time again. The start of the 2023 MLS Season is nearly upon us, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of drama surrounding your Loons before they even get the ball teed up. Chief amongst them is the prolonged absence and current status of midfielder Emanuel Reynoso. While the club hopes for a swift resolution in the form of an el Rey, the Loons turn their focus to key acquisitions made during the offseason and how their contributions to the product on the field can help lead MNUFC to more success in the standings of the Western Conference. And, as the schedule-making gods would have it, the Loons will look for that chance at non-playoff retribution in the same place where last year’s playoff run derailed. Talk about ripping the band-aid off right away…
HIGHLIGHTS: FC Dallas vs. Minnesota United FC | October 17, 2022
Keys to the Match
The Eleven, Without Ten:
Obviously, entering the 2023 campaign with the absence of el Rey is not ideal for the Loons. He’s the engine that makes the whole thing giddy up and go, and without him on the field to start the season, adjustments are necessary for the Loons’ starting eleven to even entertain the notion of “replacing” number ten. Frankly, that kind of talent isn’t replaceable, but with the right lineup and on-field strategy, it is possible to endure. The offensive onslaught that FC Dallas brings to the table will be a heck of a first test for MNUFC. While the defensive back line of the Loons has gained some talent and youth over the offseason, it’s the club’s own offensive output that needs to step up and show out. More specifically, if the likes of Luis Amarilla, Mender Garcia, Franco Fragapane and Bongokuhle Hlongwane can create enough on-field opportunities for their counterparts on the pitch, the club may be able to find a way to fill the void until Reynoso’s return.
Robin Lod’s value to the Loons cannot be understated, and even more so with Reynoso’s status in limbo. His experience and versatility to play at multiple spots within the lineup is something that has come in handy in past seasons when adapting to injuries in the starting eleven. In 2023, there is little doubt the club will need all that experience and versatility and, probably, then some. With that in mind, and the unknowns of when a Reynoso return might be set in motion, Finland’s finest export must be utilized intelligently to ensure his season-long health and fitness don’t become an issue in the early going of a season. But, in facing FC Dallas right off the bat this season, it will be interesting to see how he is utilized in the eleven against such a formidable offensive-minded foe.
While questions remain on what the Loons attack will look like to start the season, there is enthusiasm in the back line with several talent upgrades from this offseason and a tad more youth amongst the ranks. The biggest difference-makers amongst those additions being Miguel Tapias and Mikael Marques. Both center backs bring the kind of talent to the table that should figure into the mix when it comes to starting spots along the back line. Pairing them with the well-established leadership of Michael Boxall should give fans hope that help is on the way for Dayne St Clair. But, what may prove to be an even bigger leap is having a much deeper defensive bench with the likes of veterans Doniel Henry and Zarek Valentin waiting in the wings providing the kind of depth at fullback that the Loons sorely missed down the stretch of last season and against Dallas in last season’s first-round playoff exit. Hopefully, this time around, the defense can be the difference-maker.