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Preview | Time to Bounce Back Against the Claret and Cobalt


Minnesota United will be taking a short break from Eastern Conference matchups, returning home this weekend to take on some familiar friends. That’s right, Real Salt Lake is coming to town, and they’ve put together an impressive start to 2024. Neither squad is quite an immovable object nor an unstoppable force, but they’re both pretty dang good right now; this should be a fun one.

Minnesota United -

Run of Form: L-W-W-D-W

Minnesota United’s unbeaten start to the season is officially over, courtesy of the Philadelphia Union. While all good things must inevitably come to an end, the closing of one door often means the opening of another. Saturday’s match marked the first time this season that the Black and Blue have failed to score across 90 minutes, and the second time they’ve allowed two goals in the same game. And though there were encouraging signs and close calls, the end result was ultimately indicative of how the game truly unfolded. Head Coach Eric Ramsay noted that his team didn’t seem to have the same energy that had carried them to that point, and though the loss was frustrating, it was the kind of game that you learn from and just move on. There’s no point in letting your mistakes impact your next move; it’s time to prove that last weekend was just a blip. The Loons have a chance to right the ship in their return to Western Conference action, but it won’t be easy.

Real Salt Lake -

Run of Form: W-W-L-W-D

Chicho Arango is HERE, and so are the Claret and Cobalt. Just one loss in their last five games has seen Pablo Mastroeni’s men vault up the table after their opening-day loss to Inter Miami, taking them all the way up to third in the West. Arango’s awakening has transformed this team into an offensive powerhouse, and after his hat trick against St. Louis, it seems that the Colombian forward is enjoying life in the Beehive State. Aside from their star man, RSL have established quality all over the pitch, with an interesting mixture of youth and experience blending together to make for an impressive roster. Playing them in Utah right now would be a nightmare, but a lovely night out at Allianz Field? That sounds a bit more manageable. Thank you very much.

Keys to the Match:

Building Trust is a Must

In their match against Philly, the Loons were down more than a man or two. Between injuries, tired legs from international duty, and various other reasons, Coach Ramsay had to turn to his bench to fill in some important gaps. Despite the final result, the performance of Devin Padelford at center back was an encouraging takeaway, and it reinforced the reasoning behind a bigger trend playing out this season. This Loons’ squad is talented; that much is clear to anyone who takes the time to look. Substitutes are making a noticeable difference this season, and the players taking on starting roles have seemed ready for the challenge. If they want to win anything of importance, it’s going to be absolutely crucial that MNUFC utilize the entire roster, and that only works if players 1-29 feel that they’re trusted and integral parts of the team. 11 really good players can’t win a title on their own; it takes a whole roster of confident athletes performing at their absolute best. Regardless of who is available this weekend, it’s vital that the Loons maintain their next-man-up mentality.

Can Style Beat Substance?

RSL prefers to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, much like what MNUFC used the last few seasons. This essentially gives them a two-man midfield, especially if Arango is playing in the 10 spot. In theory, the midfield trio of Trapp, Dotson, and Lod should be able to find some space to play with here, but that depends on whether or not the Loons’ back line can establish themselves early on. That’s a tough ask against a player of Chicho Arango’s quality, as he demands extra attention. If the visitors get on the offensive early, Trapp could be forced to sit in front of the center backs for extra cover, leaving Dotson and Lod without the man-advantage that could be the key to unlocking a fairly stingy Salt Lake defense. The sooner MNUFC can establish their press and the longer they can hold onto the ball, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to win the midfield battle and, consequently, the game itself.

Poke the Bear

In both of the games that RSL has lost, they’ve been cautioned at least once. In fact, they earned three yellow cards in their 1-2 loss to Colorado a few weeks ago, and even got a red card in their 3-0 win against LAFC. A total of nine yellow cards in just six games has revealed a weakness in Salt Lake’s game, one that can be exploited, especially in the confines of Allianz Field. If the stadium is rocking and the boys are playing physically, it’s only a matter of time before one of the visitors loses their heads. Strong play from the Loons and a healthy dose of energy from the crowd could unsettle the RSL players just enough to throw them off their game, and while we want 22 players on the field at the end of the match, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if more than a few of our guests left with another yellow card to their name. An angry opponent is hardly ever an organized opponent, and once you lose your organization, this Loons side can rip you apart.

Match Details

Minnesota United FC vs. Real Salt Lake

Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota

04.06.2023 | MLS Matchday No. 7 | MLS Game 6

7:30 p.m. CT (Exclusively on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)