Back with some fresh mountain pictures and the sting of a midweek defeat, Storylines is ready to put its feet up and catch a quick nap before the noise of a packed Allianz Field stirs it from its slumber, as Minnesota United prepares to host FC Dallas for a pivotal start to an MLS September.
It would be sufficient to say that Minnesota’s trip to Utah on Wednesday was not a pleasant one, as the Loons departed at the rough end of a 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake. The club, as noted earlier this week, has been as successful as they have ever been on the road this season, but couldn’t get it done on this occasion. They now turn their attention back home to an FC Dallas team that has also seen their fair share of struggles on the road. Dallas has just three victories in their 14 road games this year, and their last trip put them on the wrong end of a lopsided shut-out, as they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Nashville two weeks ago. These stats also hold true within this specific matchup; Dallas has won just once in six tries in the state of Minnesota — in their very first trip here way back in June 2018 — and the Loons have won each of the last five matchups. On Saturday, MNUFC will look to both continue that win streak and complete their first-ever sweep of Dallas, after winning at Toyota Stadium for the first time in May.
Rest and Refresh
The Salt Lake shutout ended a number of promising offensive streaks for Minnesota, most notably that they had not been shut out in a match since the end of May, and had not scored fewer than two goals in a match since mid-July. Much of Minnesota’s scoring from the season received a moment’s rest during Wednesday’s match. The Loons have scored 44 goals in MLS play this season. Their top four goalscorers — Emanuel Reynoso, Luis Amarilla, Robin Lod and Franco Fragapane — combine to account for 31 of those 44 goals (70.5%). Both Reynoso and Fragapane did not appear in the Utah match, and Lod and Amarilla both came off the bench. The attacking quartet are 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th in minutes for the Loons this season, and are all among the top seven in matches started for Minnesota (with Dayne St. Clair, Bakaye Dibassy and Michael Boxall all topping both lists). A Reynoso return, in particular, could be taken as a good omen to Loon fans. Reynoso has not played in a Minnesota defeat since the loss to Inter Miami on June 25. Both of Minnesota’s losses in the time since have come in games that Reynoso was absent for.
The Long and Short of it
If one looks past the Nashville result, Dallas is in decent form: a draw with the aforementioned Salt Lake came after it, and an eye-popping 1-0 win over Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia came before it. Their defense allowed goals in two different ways across their previous four matches: totally unstoppable shots from distance, and headers at the near post. If you were to watch replays of the goal that Anderson Julio scored for Salt Lake last weekend and Dave Romney’s final goal for Nashville in their previous game, there are a few similarities to note in terms of positioning and effect that Minnesota could look to attack. Alternatively, if the Loons have a few golazos hiding away, now might be the time to unleash them. Hany Mukhtar’s brace in the Nashville game featured two insane goals. And four games prior, the one blemish on Dallas’ 4-1 win against San Jose was Jeremy Ebobisse’s bar-down rocket from the top of the eighteen-yard box.
Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
09.03.2022 | MLS Game No. 29
2:30 p.m. CT (Univision, TUDN, Twitter (English audio), Bally Sports North, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)