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MNUFC vs. D.C. UNITED
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
07.16.2022 | MLS Week No. 21 | MLS Game No. 21
7:00 p.m. CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, Bally Sports North, The CW - Twin Cities and 1500 ESPN)

The Nicest Rivalry in Sports proved nice enough for MNUFC and SKC on Wednesday night, as both squads battled it out until the last whistle, but ultimately ended the game in a 1-1 draw. The Loons will be back in action with a Saturday matchup against D.C. United. D.C. (aka the other United). D.C. is a team with a long and successful history that includes four MLS Cups trophies, four Supporters’ Shields and three Open Cups. However, this season doesn't appear to be one for the record books. The Black-and-Red have struggled mightily, securing only five wins in their first 18 games, which is good enough for last place in the Eastern Conference. Hope may be on the horizon though with the team's recent signing of Premiere League icon and former D.C. United player, Wayne Rooney to take over as the squad's new head coach. Up until now, the clubs have only met four times with the results evenly split at two wins a piece. Both teams come into Saturday's game with a chip on their shoulder after both their midweek games resulted in draws. Minnesota needs to make the most of their home field advantage and rest up in a hurry to ensure Saturday's game results in three points instead of one. MORE

OPPONENT BREAKDOWN - D.C. UNITED

Just like Kansas City, D.C. has seen better days. Though they’re able to score goals, they can’t seem to keep the ball out of their own net enough to pull out many results. The in-form Loons would be foolish to write them off, but should be licking their chops when they look at the state of the D.C. United defense. After scoring 10 goals in their last four games, MNUFC appear primed and ready to tackle this challenge. So, if you like goals, this one should have plenty of them. MORE

Adrian Heath on the performance of Taxiarchis Fountas this season…

“Obviously he’s come in and hit the ground running. I think he’s had a brace in four games. Obviously he’s coming in in form. You look at his goal the other night, really good movement in the box, pulls off the back shoulder then necks in front of the defender at the last minute and it’s a good finish. He’ll be playing with a lot of confidence and when you’re playing against strikers who are in that sort of form they think anything is possible. We have to be fully concentrated. I always use that word because good strikers wait for that moment when you lose a little bit of concentration and then they strike. We’re aware of him. The new manager [Wayne Rooney] coming in will give them a bounce, I would expect. They’ve changed the shape, they’ve changed the manager. I think it’s a little bit of a different D.C. than it might have been a couple of weeks ago.” MORE

DJ Taylor on the turnaround the team has made…

“It means a lot. It’s a good way to build up some confidence and go for the wins. You can also see on the table, just get a few wins in a row and you change your season totally, so now we just need to focus on the next one.” MORE

STORYLINES PRESENTED BY BMW

NEW MANAGER BOUNCE: While he is unable to officially walk the touchline for D.C yet, the capital’s team made a seismic announcement on Tuesday when they announced that their former designated player and legend of the game, Wayne Rooney, would be the club’s new manager upon the reception of his work visa from the United States. Rooney, most notably of Manchester United and Everton, spent 2018 and 2019 playing for D.C., and most recently served as the manager of Derby County in the Championship in England. Rooney was present at D.C.’s draw against Columbus on Wednesday, and one would assume he’ll make the trip to Minnesota to support the team this weekend. Rooney himself was 1-1 against Minnesota in his MLS career, captaining D.C. in both meetings between the teams, a 2-1 win in Washington in 2018 and a 1-0 loss at Allianz Field in 2019; he did not score against the Loons. While D.C. only drew in their first game after the announcement on Wednesday, there was some new spring in the squad’s steps; their xG of 2.8 against Columbus was their best mark of the entire season, and their allowed xG of 0.5 was also their best effort of the year. MORE

FIRST TOUCHES

  • The Loons draw combined with other results pushed them up to fifth in the West, ahead of Dallas on season wins. They remain just two points back of both Nashville and Salt Lake for further ascension.
  • D.C., meanwhile, has the league’s lowest point total at 18, and the league’s second-worst goal differential at -14. They’ve also played one fewer match than any other team in the league, and two fewer than Minnesota.
  • Andy Najar and Kervin Arriaga played together for the Honduran national team in the most recent World Cup qualifying cycle.
  • Oniel Fisher played for D.C. United in 2020. MORE