Storylines this week looks at an unusual goal-scoring threat to watch from Cincinnati, and examines Minnesota’s contrasting fortunes at home and on the road in 2022.
Watch The Throw
In the first of Cincinnati’s two wins over Toronto FC this week, they scored a goal that is worth keeping an eye on for Minnesota’s defense. From a throw-in deep in the attacking end, Alvas Powell unleashed a long throw into the box that Luciano Acosta controlled and scored from. The throw made it all the way from the sideline to the edge of the six-yard box in the air, functionally creating a set-piece opportunity where there wasn’t meant to be one. Any side that has someone with a viable long throw brings a different element to defend within the box, and Cincinnati appears to have that in their bag of tricks for the Minnesota backline to worry about.
Home Sweet Home
The advantage given by the comforts of home for every team in MLS is not to be understated. It is rare for any team in the league to play better on the road than at home. For example, in 2021, only two teams in the entire league won more games on the road than at home (Seattle and Cincinnati). Eight teams won 10 or more games at home, while just one (New England, who won the Supporters’ Shield) won 10 or more games on the road. In this season’s early going, Minnesota has not been an exception to that rule thus far in 2022. They have secured just four points across four road matches compared to 10 points across five home matches. They have averaged just 0.73 xG in their four road games, and have averaged 1.46 xG in their five home games. Also, Minnesota’s road schedule has been brutally difficult! The four games they’ve played on the road have been against literally the top two teams in each conference as of today.
Spoiled For Choice
A critical part of Minnesota’s success in many of their games this season has been an ability to retain possession between midfield and defense. Minnesota’s five highest passing completion numbers, each between 82.9% and 85.7%, belong to their starting center backs (Michael Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy) and three of their primary choices for central midfield (Wil Trapp, Kervin Arriaga and Joseph Rosales, whose percentage is the highest of all). Trapp returns to availability from a yellow card accumulation suspension for Saturday’s game, so one might think that all five men are likely to see the field on Saturday at some point. Rosales has now appeared in one capacity or another in five consecutive matches for Minnesota.
Minnesota United FC vs. FC Cincinnati
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, MN
05.07.22 | MLS Game No. 10
7:00 pm CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, Bally Sports North, The CW - Twin Cities, SKOR North)