Colorado Celebration

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

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. COLORADO RAPIDS
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
04.23.17 | MLS Week #8 | MLS Game #8
5:00 p.m. CT (My29, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2017 Records:
MIN: 1-4-2; 1-1-0 at home
COL: 1-3-1; 0-2-0 on the road

Following a second-half comeback that earned them a hard-won point in Houston, MNUFC will look to contribute to the Colorado Rapids’ road struggles as they return home on Sunday, April 23. With an increasingly dangerous offense and an improving defense, MNUFC will put up a tough fight at TCF Bank Stadium, where they handily won their last match against Real Salt Lake 4-2. The match is presented by the Minnesota Corn Growers Associating and kickoff is set for 5 p.m. You can catch pre-match coverage on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN beginning at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Against a Houston Dynamo side that had won all three of their home matches, MNUFC conceded two first half goals before roaring back in the second half with goals by forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Johan Venegas. The Loons showed resilience in bouncing back both from the deficit and the losses of midfielder Rasmus Schuller and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to injury just before halftime. Schuller is dealing with a hip issue and Shuttleworth entered the league’s concussion protocol after being kneed in the face by Houston forward Alberth Elis.

Head Coach Adrian Heath chalks a lot of that fight up to a growing familiarity that has as much to do with players challenging each other as getting comfortable.

“The most important thing is that players are starting to hold each other accountable,” said Heath. “That comes with time and trust and the understanding that this isn't a personal thing, this is a collective and we're trying to be better together. Regardless of whatever the results have been — even if we'd have been sitting top of the table with another five or six points — this was still going to be a work in progress at this point in time. I see it getting better.”

It will be the first time the Rapids and the Loons will meet since a series of transactions at the end of March led to midfielders Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt joining Colorado and defender Marc Burch and midfielder Sam Cronin coming to Minnesota. Since the trade, MNUFC are 1-1-1, a marked improvement on their 0-3-1 start.

“There's nothing like playing against your old team,” said Heath. “As a player, you just want to do well and show that maybe they shouldn't have done the trade. I'm sure their staff will be hoping them two don't have exceptional games at the weekend because it is one of them things. When you do trade players or you leave players out, it can come back to haunt you.”

The match against Colorado marks the beginning of a three-match homestand for a Loons team that spent a lot of time away from TCF Bank Stadium to start the season.

“Out of the seven games, five have been on the road against really tough opposition,” said Heath. “The likes of Portland and Dallas and going to Colorado — they're difficult places to go at any time. So they're out the way for us now. We've got three weeks, nearly four weeks, at home, so that will be nice for the players to be in their home environment. You're not going on a three-hour flight and all the things that go with traveling.”

Minnesota United’s lineups — which were volatile to start the season due to a mix of injuries, suspensions, call-ups and the process of player evaluation — have begun to settle down as well, with several players emerging as true forces on the pitch. Forward Christian Ramirez is tied for second in MLS with five goals total and tied for first for goals scored in the run of play. Another veteran from NASL, Brent Kallman, has stepped into a starting center back role and made several clutch defensive plays to prevent goals. And Kevin Molino — who came over from Orlando City for a near-record transfer fee — has three goals and three assists to go along with a dizzying array of passing and ballhandling highlights.

“People thought we gave up quite a lot for him,” said Heath. “I thought we got him cheap. I think he's the best in the league at what he does. I have no doubt that come the end of the season, he'll be in double figures in both categories — scoring and making goals. The people who go for the most money do the hardest things, which is score and make goals.”

The Loons will next face the visiting San Jose Earthquakes at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. The match is presented by Toro and will be broadcast on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN with pre-match coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United

OUT: M - Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)
QUESTIONABLE: GK - Patrick McLain (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: GK - Bobby Shuttleworth (head injury)
QUESTIONABLE: M - Rasmus Schuller (hip injury)

Colorado Rapids

OUT: GK - John Berner (wrist injury)
OUT: D - Axel Sjoberg (hamstring surgery 3/14, out 6-8 weeks)
OUT: M - Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back injury 4/15, out 8-10 weeks)
QUESTIONABLE: M - Dillon Serna (calf injury)
QUESTIONABLE: F - Alan Gordon (hamstring injury)

DISCIPLINE REPORT

Minnesota United
-none-

Colorado Rapids
Tim Howard — Disciplinary Committee decision
Jared Watts — Red card

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Mohammed Saeid and Josh Gatt were traded from Minnesota to Colorado for Marc Burch and Sam Cronin earlier in 2017. Saeid came to Minnesota during the 2016 Expansion Draft and Gatt had signed with the club in early 2017.
  • Woodbury, Minn., natives Eric Miller and Brent Kallman both played for Creighton University in college and were teammates there in 2011.
  • Miller and Johan Venegas spent the 2015 season on the Montreal Impact.
  • Mekeil Williams and Kevin Molino are both members of the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Team.
  • Shkelzen Gashi and Jerome Thiesson are both natives of Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Collen Warner is a Denver, Colo., native.
  • Marc Burch and Sam Cronin will face Colorado for the first time since being traded to Minnesota at the end of March.
  • Minnesota set a club record for most cautions in a match last time it played Colorado, with four players seeing yellow cards.
  • Christian Ramirez is tied for second in MLS with five goals this season. He is the highest scoring American in the league.
  • Both Ramirez (5G/1A) and Molino (3G/3A) have six points in seven matches.
  • Minnesota has now had to substitute goalkeepers due to injury twice in 2017. John Alvbage came on for Bobby Shuttleworth in the first half of last week’s match against Houston. Shuttleworth had replaced Alvbage in the closing minutes of the Loons’ second match of the season.
  • Tim Howard will be unavailable for the Rapids due to a three-match suspension handed down from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Howard was given the suspension for an altercation with fans following the club’s match against Sporting KC on April 9.
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