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Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

COLORADO RAPIDS vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, Colorado
03.18.17 | MLS Week #3 | MLS Game #3
8:00 p.m. CT (My29, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2017 Records:
MIN:
0-2-0; 0-1-0 on the road
COL: 1-1-0; 1-0-0 at home

The Loons hit the road this week and look to bounce back in Commerce City, Colo., against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, March 18 at 8:00 p.m. More than 35,000 fans came together in record cold and snow for Minnesota United’s home opener, a 6-1 loss to Atlanta United. Saturday’s match will air on My29 and 1500 ESPN.

MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN begins its pre-match coverage with longtime soccer commentator Chris Lidholm at 7:30 p.m. CT before play-by-play and commentary is taken over by Callum Williams, Kyndra de St. Aubin and Jamie Watson for the match itself. Post-match coverage will be on 1500 ESPN.

After conceding 11 goals in two matches, Minnesota knows they have their work cut out for them going forward, but there are silver linings even in tough losses. Both Portland and Atlanta’s offenses showed themselves to be elite and despite the goal differential, Minnesota United won the possession battle against the Timbers and nearly drew even in possession against Atlanta.

“We haven't been good enough in both boxes,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath at practice this week. “That's the harsh fact. If you don't do well in both boxes, you ain't winning many games because you're not scoring many goals and you're conceding too many. The rest of the game, the rest of our play, doesn't really overconcern me. But there are some shoots of optimism that we can work around. Even that 25 minutes before halftime [against Atlanta]: if we'd have got the second goal, I thought we were right back in the game. But every time that we've got some sort of momentum in any game, we've conceded a goal and it just takes the wind out of the sails and we have to start again.”

In Colorado, they’ll face a very different kind of opponent. In their first two matches against the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls they were out-possessed, out-shot and out-passed, yet only lost their second match because of an own goal. They’ve also taken the third-fewest shots in the league headed into the third week of MLS action. In short, the Rapids are a defensive stalwart. If Minnesota can break down that defense with strings of solid possession like they’ve shown while not conceding, it could go a long way.

“I think the most important thing is that we keep faith with the group,” said Heath. “I've got an awful lot of faith. Some people might think it's blind faith at this moment in time. But having worked with them over the last six or seven weeks, I know what this group's capable of and we're capable of a lot better than we've done. We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot and conceding early goals. For us now, trying to maintain the confidence within the group is the most important thing.”

After their match against Colorado, Minnesota heads in the other direction across the country to face the New England Revolution at home on Saturday, March 25. That afternoon game gets underway at 1:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United
OUT: M — Bernardo Anor (hamstring injury)
OUT: GK — John Alvbage (knee laceration)

Colorado Rapids
OUT: GK — John Berner (wrist injury)
OUT: D — Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery 3/14, out 6–8 weeks)
OUT: F – Kevin Doyle (head injury)
OUT: F — Alan Gordon (back injury)

DISCIPLINARY REPORT

None

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Tim Howard and Josh Gatt started for the U.S. Men’s National Team in Gatt’s first cap against Russia on November 14, 2012.
  • Woodbury, Minn., natives Eric Miller and Brent Kallman both played for Creighton University in college and were teammates there in 2011.
  • Shkelzen Gashi and Jerome Thiesson are both natives of Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Collen Warner is a Denver, Colo., native.
  • The Rapids are the first original MLS team that the Loons will face.
  • Colorado has not lost in 18 consecutive home regular season matches, going back to the beginning of the 2016 season.
  • This match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be Minnesota’s first match of the season on a natural surface.
  • The Rapids earned a berth the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League after finishing second in Supporters’ Shield standings. It will be their first appearance in the competition since 2012.
  • The Minnesota Thunder defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-1 at home in the 2005 U.S. Open Cup. The Thunder went on to make the semifinals of the tournament.
  • Minnesota’s home opener last weekend was the coldest match in MLS history. The temperature was just 19° F at kickoff with 3.4 inches of snow falling on the Twin Cities area during the match.