MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
07.18.21 | MLS Week No. 13 | MLS Game No. 13
1:00 p.m. CT (ESPN, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2021 Regular Season Records (W-L-D):
SEA: 8-0-5 (3-0-2 on the road)
MIN: 4-5-3 (3-2-1 at home)

It gets no easier for Minnesota United after seeing their seven-game unbeaten streak come to an end with a 2-0 loss away to Colorado Rapids last week. The Loons will wrap up the weekend of MLS action with a meeting against the Seattle Sounders at Allianz Field. There’s no escaping the fact that the Sounders have had Minnesota’s number ever since MNUFC came into the league. In seven tries, the Loons have only eked out a single point in a draw at Allianz Field back in 2019. The Sounders have dealt with injuries and absences all year, including key players like Nico Lodeiro, Stefan Frei and Nouhou Tolo, but none of it has seemed to matter much as they’ve rolled to a lead in the Supporters Shield race on the back of a 13-game unbeaten streak as we near the midpoint of the season. It might take a bit of magic to come away with a result at the weekend, but as the Loons all-too recently learned, every streak has to end.

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THE OPPOSITION

The Seattle Sounders have somehow managed to make dominance kinda boring this year. When a team like Toronto FC grows into a powerhouse, you can point to their struggles over their first nine seasons and label it a massive turnaround. When a club like Atlanta United or LAFC come out of the gates hot in their first seasons, it’s a test case in how to build contenders almost overnight. The Seattle Sounders? Their poorest finish in 11 years in MLS has been fourth in the West. Their laurels? They’ve racked up four U.S. Open Cup titles and two MLS Cup titles, making the Final in four of the last five years, and they're not resting on them. Their greatest enemy? Sustained excellence. You can take away a top goalscorer in Jordan Morris, perhaps the top playmaker in Nico Lodeiro, a top goalkeeper in Stefan Frei, and they’re still on top of the Supporters Shield standings more than a third of the way into the season. Forward Raul Ruidiaz is on pace for his best goalscoring season in MLS so far and players like Alex Roldan have adapted to new roles. The bad news for every other team: they're probably only going to get better as their injured players return.

ADRIAN HEATH ON TRAINING SINCE THE LOSS TO COLORADO

“The players have been excellent. They’re fully aware that the performance that we put in in Colorado was not acceptable. Part of playing football is you lose games, we know that. But there are ways to lose a game of football and the way that we played in Colorado, certainly isn’t one of them. I don’t think we did ourselves justice in any shape or form and it’s probably the most disappointed I’ve been for maybe a couple years.” MORE

ROBIN LOD ON FACING SEATTLE

“It’s going to be tough. Seattle is unbeaten still so I’m really looking forward to make them suffer and have the first loss. In the playoffs, and in the first game [of the season], I think there was times we played really well against them, it’s just some small details and small mistakes we made that they make us pay. I’m really looking forward for it and I feel confident going into against them.” MORE

STORYLINES PRESENTED BY BMW

A STORY FROM DICKETY EIGHTEEN:Back in 2018, the Loons were doing their best to improve upon what had been a difficult first season — one in which the club surrendered an MLS record 70 goals. After another rocky start, MNUFC had made a splash upon signing the team’s first Designated Player, Darwin Quintero, and by July, Quintero was looking like the best thing to ever happen to the Loons. On July 4, he notched the team’s first hat trick in MLS in a 4-3 win over Toronto FC, who at the time were the class of the East, fresh off winning the Supporters Shield in 2017. The Loons went on to win three of their next five games, including a 5-1 thumping of then-expansion side LAFC. And then came the Sounders. Seattle had already walloped Minnesota 3-1 back in April, but that was just after Quintero arrived and while he was still getting his bearings in MLS. In their game on August 4 at TCF Bank Stadium, MNUFC jumped out to an early lead on a Quintero goal assisted by Miguel Ibarra in the 19th minute. Not known at the time for gutting out defensive wins, the Loons nevertheless held the line down the stretch and it looked like they would manage to take all three points. But then stoppage time arrived. An Ibarra handball in the box led to a penalty kick buried by Nico Lodeiro and then in the 97th minute, Will Bruin buried a shot that tore the home side’s heart out. The fight went out of the team at that point and they limped to the finish line, winning twice more, but drawing twice and losing six games, including their final four. To put the cherry on it, they beat their own record, surrendering 71 goals. Plenty of fans will rightly point to the Sounders’ win over the Loons in the Western Conference Semifinal in 2020 as the loss that needs to be avenged, but suffice it to say, it goes a lot deeper than last year. MORE

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FIRST TOUCHES

·     Raul Ruidiaz and Adrien Hunou are tied for the most shots on goal in a single game this season with five. Hunou’s five came in a 1-1 tie with Dallas on June 19 and Ruidiaz’s came against Minnesota United in the season opener. MORE

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