Minnesota United FC vs. Columbus Crew SC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. COLUMBUS CREW SC
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
07.04.17 | MLS Week #19 | MLS Game #19
6:00 p.m. CT (My29, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2017 Records:
MIN: 5-10-3; 5-3-1 at home
CLB: 8-10-1; 2-7-0 on the road

Coming off a tough loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium last Thursday, MNUFC returns to TCF Bank Stadium for a Fourth of July match on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. with many events during the match tied to the club’s Salute to Freedom, recognizing active duty military members, veterans and their families. Coverage on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN begins at 5:30 p.m.

With Gold Cup play calling away defender Francisco Calvo and midfielder Johan Venegas to the Costa Rica men’s national team and defender Jermaine Taylor to Jamaica’s, Head Coach Adrian Heath will once again have to juggle his backline, a task made more daunting by a right knee injury to defender Brent Kallman that will keep him out of the 18 as well.

When asked how his team will step up, Heath responded, “That's the answer: They've got to step up, the people who come in. You don't have a squad of 28 players and not have one out. Eventually at some stage, everybody's going to get used. Now it's an opportunity for them guys who've been on the outside — some of them have been knocking on my door asking the question, 'Why aren't I playing?' Well, here's the opportunity. Come and show us what you can do. Play so well that the manager has a decision whether he takes you out the team when people are back.”

One of the players who will be getting that opportunity is defender Joe Greenspan, who had a successful stint on loan to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL before starting for MNUFC in U.S. Open Cup play against Sporting KC. He was forced to leave that match, though, after a collision with midfielder Roger Espinoza landed him in the league’s concussion protocol. It was his second concussion of the season, but he’s now healthy and raring to go for the Loons.

“It's frustrating because — knock on wood — I haven't really had to deal with a lot of setbacks over the last five, six years in college and my first years in Colorado,” he said. “Concussions, especially, you can't really do a whole lot. You're just sitting around waiting until you feel better and the doctors say you can start activity again. It's been frustrating, but it's also a learning process. It's given me time to reflect on the past four or five months, including preseason and what I can do going forward to better myself and make some positive steps.”

Like it or not, injuries and other absences are part of the sport. It’s not the same for every team, but it’s a reality that every team has to reckon with.

“Some teams get more affected than most,” said Heath. “With Brent's injury as well for us, to have two or three center backs being called up makes it a little bit difficult. But let's get on with it. We know what's coming. It's an opportunity for Big Joe Greenspan and one or two other people to show that they can play at this level.”

Like many teams in MLS, Crew SC has struggled on the road, with only a quarter of their wins and 70 percent of their losses coming away from MAPFRE Stadium. On the flipside, all of the Loons’ victories have come at home and only 30 percent of their losses. This bodes well not just for Tuesday’s match, but for the entire month of July. MNUFC will get almost two weeks of rest before taking on Mexican club Atlas FC and then hosting Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders at TCF Bank Stadium for the team’s next four MLS matches.

“The challenge will be the following month when we're on the road for virtually a full month,” said Heath. “The way our away form has been it might be an issue. But we can't look that far ahead. Next game — old cliché, I know, one game at a time — but that's all we can concentrate on. We've got an awful lot on our plate tomorrow night against Columbus but hopefully we come through, give ourselves a couple of weeks to regroup and then we'll start to prepare for the next one.”

The next one will be an international friendly against Liga MX’s Atlas FC on Saturday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. This will be the third consecutive year the Loons have faced a club from Mexico, having squared off against Club Leon in 2015 and 2016. Tickets for this match against one of Mexico’s most storied clubs are on sale now at MNUFC.COM or by calling 763.4SOCCER.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United

OUT: M - Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)
OUT: M/D - Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury)
OUT: D - Marc Burch (sports hernia surgery 6/20, out 8-12 weeks)
OUT: D - Vadim Demidov (left knee injury)
OUT: D - Brent Kallman (right knee injury)
OUT: GK – John Alvbage (right thumb)
QUESTIONABLE: F - Abu Danladi (right thigh injury)

Columbus Crew SC

OUT: D - Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery, out for season)
OUT: M - Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery, out for season)
OUT: M - Niko Hansen (hernia surgery 6/21, out 2 weeks)

DISCIPLINARY REPORT

-none-

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Columbus Assistant Coach Pat Onstad was a teammate of Manny Lagos on the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003.
  • Crew SC Assistant Coach Josh Wolff played with Lagos and Amos Magee on the Chicago Fire.
  • Lagos ended his playing career with Columbus in 2005.
  • Loons Assistant Coach Mark Watson played the inaugural MLS Season in 1996 with Columbus.
  • Crew SC midfielder Ethan Finlay was born in Duluth, MN. Finlay played with Brent Kallman at Creighton University from 2009 through 2011.
  • Adam Jahn played with Sam Cronin as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes in 2013 and 2014.
  • Columbus is the last team currently in the Eastern Conference to win an MLS Cup.
  • Columbus players took a league high 200 corner kicks in 2016.
  • Crew SC’s last MLS Cup appearance was in 2015, where it fell 2-1 at home to the Portland Timbers.
  • This is the only Tuesday match on Minnesota’s schedule.
  • Christian Ramirez scored his 10th goal in MLS on Thursday in New York. He is the first MNUFC player to reach that mark in MLS.
  • Bobby Shuttleworth has made at least two saves in each of his last seven appearances. Eight stops against RSL on June 17 was the highest during that stretch.
  • This match begins a five-match homestand in league play for the Loons. MNUFC is undefeated in its last three home matches.