Storylines is back and, as New England Patriots gaffer Bill Belichek so eloquently, and repeatedly, answered at a post game presser following a particularly tough loss: “we are on to Cincinnati…I mean, Houston.” After a brutal 4-1 loss to Austin FC at Allianz Field last Saturday, the Loons need to goldfish this one real quick and look ahead to Wednesday night’s matchup with Houston Dynamo. Besides, we’ve got plenty of other things to talk about…things like…the future…or vision boards…or goldfish being forgetful…
For those wondering who might be part of the starting XI against Houston, there is some good news and some (potential, but yet to be determined) bad news. Let’s start with the less than desirable news. While both players participated in training Tuesday, the status of Sang Bin Jeong and Franco Fragapane remains up in the air for Wednesday night. While having Bongi in the lineup ensures the Loons won’t be completely depleted of their most speedy attackers, it does present a challenge for a team that’s at its most dangerous off the ball. In the event one or both are absent, would those be insurmountable absences to overcome and get a positive result in this matchup? Not exactly, but for a squad looking to solidify their new-look attack with Finnish heartthrob and striker Teemu Pukki in the starting XI, it presents a tougher road to developing the cohesiveness needed to become the consistent threat the Loons attack hopes to be the rest of the season.
Now, for the more desirable news, that being the return of Canada’s finest export, goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. Not only will he make his return to the Loons lineup on Wednesday, he’ll be coming into the Houston game fresh off playing some quality minutes for his home country in Gold Cup play. While St. Clair has mostly been relegated to the reserve role when playing for Canada, an undisclosed injury to starting keeper and team captain Milan Borjan would present St Clair with an opportunity to make an impression. And, even in a tournament-eliminating loss to the USMNT in a shootout, DSC made some unbelievably athletic saves to keep Canada in the fight. And, while the Loons have seen reserve goalkeeper Clint Irwin play admirably between the posts in his absence, St. Clair’s return is coming at a time when the Loons are looking for some optimism. A revitalized Dayne St. Clair may just be what is needed to re-instill more confidence for a defensive unit that’s coming off a sub-par performance against…oh, right, I forget.
Hopefully, Loons will come into Wednesday night’s matchup using the good news of their starting goalkeeper’s return as inspiration. If not, it will only prolong the time sensitivity of MNUFC’s push to get back into the good graces of the Western Conference standings.
Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC
Shell Energy Stadium | Houston, Texas
07.12.2023 | MLS Game #24
7:30 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)