USATSI_15100380

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
08.07.21 | MLS Week No. 18 | MLS Game No. 17
7:00 p.m. CT (Bally Sports North+, The CW Twin Cities, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2021 Regular Season Records (W-L-D):
HOU: 3-5-9 (0-5-5 on the road)
MIN: 6-5-5 (5-2-1 at home)

A week of rest should do Minnesota United a world of good after playing three games in eight days, a calendar week that featured a dramatic win over Portland at home and a pair of 2-2 draws on the road that couldn’t have felt more different. After snatching a point at the death against LAFC with a late Hassani Dotson goal, the Loons suffered karmic retribution in the form of what the kids call a “sus” penalty call in the game against Vancouver. But a point is a point, and now MNUFC have come back to the land of 10,000 to face the Houston Dynamo. The series between the two has been a tale of homefield advantage, with the Dynamo never failing to take a point at home and the Loons unbeaten in Minnesota. A result would push Minnesota’s unbeaten streak to five, with only one loss in their last 12, and a win could push them as high as fifth in the Western Conference.

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THE OPPOSITION

Another year, another season of the Houston Dynamo going unbeaten at home and winless on the road. As the Dynamo continue to build their identity under Head Coach Tab Ramos, their considerable home field advantage remains intact, but their struggles away from BBVA Stadium endure as well. It’s not clear if the acquisition of Corey Baird from LAFC is the ultimate answer, but the young striker will hopefully help bring focus to an offense that’s found generating shots a challenge. MNUFC have had to come back to get results in their last several games and while it’s a good sign that the Loons have looked comfortable playing from behind, it’s certainly not what Head Coach Adrian Heath wants his team to get used to. After a pair of hard-fought road points last week, the Loons should relish the chance to get out ahead and put the game to bed early.

ADRIAN HEATH ON THE LATE DRAW AGAINST VANCOUVER

“I thought the last 15 minutes of the first half and all of the second half, excellent play. We looked dangerous all evening. And that was the disappointment of conceding the penalty with, virtually, the last kick of the game. Whether it was or it wasn’t, it was given and I don’t think it was a just reward for the players for what they did last week. Because three games in a week is never easy. Going to LAFC, who probably ask more questions of you than anybody else. The mental side of the game as well. Overall, really, really pleased with the performances and commitment to the guys.” MORE

ETHAN FINLAY ON THE GOLD CUP FINAL WIN FOR THE U.S.

"I almost woke our baby up to be honest with you, as I was celebrating. My wife was asleep, she couldn’t make it to extratime. It was an awesome result. Makes you proud to be an American and to see where Greg [Berhalter] is taking the team over the last two months, it’s been awesome. Lot of great performances from a lot of young men that are going to play some big roles for this country going forward. Excited and congratulations to all those guys.” MORE

STORYLINES PRESENTED BY BMW

IS THE SEASON HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL?: Saturday’s game against Houston will be Minnesota’s 17th this season and thus the mathematical halfway point of the 2021 regular season. Over the course of nine home games and eight away games, the Loons will have gotten 23, 24 or 26 points. To go back to the most recent normal season, Minnesota finished with 53 points in 2019, good for fourth in the Western Conference. The game against Houston is not necessarily a particularly pivotal one, and it’s hopefully unlikely MNUFC suffers another stretch like the four losses that opened the season, but if the Loons end up with 46 points, that would have only been good enough for eighth in 2019. Fifty-two points would have gotten them the sixth seed that year. For comparison, their current 1.44 points per game pace would have seen them just squeaking into eighth place last season. The good news is that over their last 12 games, Minnesota have averaged considerably more than 1.44 points per game, taking 22 points overall and establishing a 1.83 points per game pace. If they sustain that over their final 18 games, that’s an even 33 points, meaning they would finish with 56 points — dead even with the Seattle Sounders’ finish in 2019. What does it all mean? Probably nothing. Minnesota’s start to the season was far worse than it should have been and their 12-game streak with one loss will not continue indefinitely. But it is some evidence in favor of the idea that the Loons have essentially righted the ship and should be expected to overcome that poor start and punch their third straight ticket to the postseason. MORE

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FIRST TOUCHES

  • Houston have nearly doubled Minnesota’s shots in the all-time series, 175 to 91. They’ve more than doubled their shots on goal, 68 to 33. MORE

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