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MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. AUSTIN FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
06.23.2021 | MLS Week No. 9 | MLS Game No. 9
7:00 p.m. CT (Bally Sports North, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2021 Regular Season Records (W-L-D):
ATX: 2-4-3 (2-4-2 on the road)
MIN: 2-4-2 (2-2-0 at home)

Minnesota United return to Allianz Field for a sort-of second home opener as the stadium welcomes back a near full capacity crowd for the first time since the Loons’ Round One matchup with LA Galaxy in late 2019. With two draws on the road, MNUFC last won at home — and they also last lost at home, 1-0 to Austin FC on May 1. With a new-look frontline featuring forward Adrien Hunou and winger Franco Fragapane — who opened his MLS account with a goal against FC Dallas in the 1-1 draw on Saturday — the Loons are hoping to keep up their four-game unbeaten streak and exact a measure of revenge for that early season loss.

THE OPPOSITION

Austin FC began their inaugural season on something of a hot streak, winning two of their first three games, but have since come back down to earth and are now winless in their last six. Their last three games, however, have all been draws, and two of them away at perennial powerhouses Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC. Forward Cecilio Dominguez has been a consistent danger so far and midfielder Jared Stroud has been a big contributor with two assists so far in the still-young season. Austin’s last win came against Minnesota at Allianz Field, so expect the visitors to come in with a feeling they can continue to right the ship and take points on the road.

MICHAEL BOXALL ON PLAYING IN FRONT OF A FULL STADIUM

“It’s massive. I think, just in the last couple games when we’ve been pushing on in the last 10 minutes to get a goal, the 4,000 that have been in attendance have made it sound as loud as some of the full houses that I can remember. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like. But, we need to make sure we bring the energy that keeps them on their feet and show them a good time.”

ADRIAN HEATH ON HOW TO MAINTAIN GOOD RECENT FORM

“By playing with the same energy, doing the same things that we know makes us successful. Move the ball quickly. Play on the front foot, play on their half of the field. We played [Austin FC] recently and, when I watched the game back, our defensive shape wasn’t good enough at times, and they picked us apart at times. It’s going to be important that we have a good discipline in and out of possession. If we do, I think there’s enough in this team now to go and win the game.”

HOME IS WHENEVER I’M WITH YOU: If anyone was around for the inaugural home opener against NYCFC at Allianz Field in 2019, you might remember it for the hum in the atmosphere, for the excitement, for the blunt feeling of 20,000+ in a building built for the game being played, for Ozzie Alonso’s goal that christened the stadium. But you probably don’t remember particularly attractive or refined soccer. The 3-3 draw was all over the place as players did their best to focus on the task at hand but inevitably got swept up in the energy of the moment. It’s entirely possible a similar scene plays out on Wednesday as a nearly full stadium returns for the first time since that inaugural season. The 4,100 fans who came to the home opener against Real Salt Lake made quite a racket, but it simply can’t compare to five times that many people, including a completely full Wonderwall. It’s also Minnesota United’s Pride Game, a tradition with roots that stretch back into the team’s days in the NASL when they became the first professional sports team to sign Athlete Ally’s pledge as a group in 2014. Emotions throughout the stadium will be high, as they should be, for what in many ways will be the de facto home opener.

Austin FC have not scored in the final 15 minutes of either the first or second half this season, while Minnesota United have not scored in the first 15 minutes of the first or second half.