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  • THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER: Its origin may be shrouded in the mists of time, but winning your home games and drawing your road games is an MLS calculation that’s more postulate than theorem — it’s that fundamental. Losing to Colorado at home has put even more of a premium on getting as much out of the upcoming away games as possible with the Loons’ remaining six games split evenly between home and road. Austin FC might be tied for the second-worst points-per-game in the league at 0.89, but they’ve managed five wins at home, including their last two in a row. The good news for MNUFC is that they’ve also lost seven at Q2 Stadium this year. If Minnesota want to pull all three points out of this matchup, it will help to get back Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall and Robin Lod from international duty, all of whom have been integral components to the Loons’ successes this season. Metanire and fellow defender Bakaye Dibassy have been top five in goals added for MNUFC this season, according to American Soccer Analysis, and Boxall has captained the side nine times so far. For Minnesota, the calculus has become simpler if more brutal: win anywhere you can, or risk falling back.
  • THE END OF THE BEGINNING: In the first three weeks of the season, it looked like Austin FC might buck the expectations that most expansion sides are freighted with. MLS’ newest team managed three wins in three tries — including a 1-0 victory over the Loons at Allianz Field — before coming back down to earth through an eight-game winless streak. But ultimately the success of an expansion team is not measured strictly in wins and losses, nor even across multiple seasons. Establishing a team takes patience, persistence and no small amount of luck and, so far, Austin FC has hit the marks. Bringing in Designated Player Sebastián Driussi was a good bit of business for the squad and the high-profile involvement of Matthew McConaughey as part of the ownership group has assured the team of at least a semi-regular spotlight. Regardless of all that, though, many players on Minnesota United will understand the hunger that comes with poor results in your first season. When you’ve endured an expansion season, every win down the stretch can feel like a bit of redemption.