Amidst the summer heat and events of the dog days of August, Storylines found the time to buy yet another birthday card for Dylan Wolpers, and might yet make a sign to welcome Darwin Quintero and the Houston Dynamo back to Allianz Field for another edition of the timeless classic.
Function Over Form
The form guides for both Minnesota and Houston tell quite the story heading into this game. The Loons, following a dramatic victory over Austin last weekend, have now won seven of their last ten fixtures, and arguably remain in the hottest form in the entire league. The Dynamo, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last ten, and last weekend secured their first point in five games with a 1-1 draw at Colorado. Even within this matchup, the Loons are in form — Minnesota have won four straight matchups between the two teams, a span that covers every contest across 2021 and 2022, including the Loons 2-1 victory in Houston just a month ago. Of course, nothing is guaranteed in MLS, and the Dynamo grabbing that single point with a dramatic 95th minute equalizer from Sebastián Ferreira could be enough to inspire them as they travel to Allianz Field. Minnesota must play like the in-form team in the matchup if they want to keep Houston from building confidence.
To Clean Sheet or Not to Clean Sheet
By and large, Minnesota’s continuing surge has been built more on their goal-scoring prowess than on their defensive exploits. A Loons squad that was held scoreless in four of their first thirteen matches of the season has thoroughly left that form behind. Minnesota has scored at least one goal in twelve consecutive matches, and has now scored at least two goals in six consecutive matches, tying yet another club record from the end of the 2020 season and following playoffs. However, even amidst this run of 25 points from a possible 30, Minnesota has recorded just one clean sheet out of ten games, and has allowed multiple goals in four of the ten. For Minnesota to enter the realm of the elite, the team must once again find a way to lean on their defense, as they did very early in the season, while still maintaining their offensive prowess.
To the Pain
With his sixth goal of the season on Saturday, a goal that proved to be the game winner against Austin, Franco Fragapane marked his best goalscoring output in MLS, and his best goal-scoring campaign since 2018-19 in Argentina. Fragapane is the latest member of the Minnesota attack to find a hot scoring streak, following earlier runs by Robin Lod, Emanuel Reynoso (who became the first Loon in double-digit goals with his first-half penalty) and Luis Amarilla. Fragapane has now scored goals in four of Minnesota’s last five games, after scoring two in his first 20 appearances of the season, and is Minnesota’s fourth different player with five or more goals scored, following Lod, Reynoso and Amarilla. Will it continue to be the Fragapane show, or will another new face come up clutch for Minnesota this weekend? Could Bongokuhle Hlongwane find his third goal of the season? Will Lod make his way forward for his first goal since May? Will Ménder García open his Minnesota account? All these things are possible, which is a beautiful thing.
Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC
Allianz Stadium | St. Paul, Minnesota
08.27.2022 | MLS Game No. 27
2:30 p.m. CT (Univision, TUDN, Twitter (English audio), Bally Sports North, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)