SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Avaya Stadium | San Jose, California
10.22.17 | MLS Week #33 | MLS Game #34
3:00 p.m. CT (FOX 9+, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)
MIN: 10-17-6; 3-11-2 on the road
SJ: 12-14-7; 9-2-5 at home
Minnesota United’s inaugural MLS season comes to a close with the team’s 34th and final match of the year this Sunday, October 22 as they face the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. With a win, San Jose can lock up the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, setting up the opportunity for the Loons to play spoiler. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. CT with pre-match coverage getting underway at 2:30 p.m. on FOX 9+ and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
When last these teams met in Minnesota back in April, MNUFC was riding high on a stretch of two wins (both at home), one draw and one hard-fought loss over its last four. With the Quakes on a six-match winless streak at the time, the Loons were optimistic about notching their third home win that night, but in the end, it was San Jose who came out on top in a 1-0 win after Florian Jungwirth dinked home the winner off a cross in the 54th minute.
The Loons can exact a measure of revenge for themselves with a win on Sunday, but they’ll also have a chance to play spoiler and open the door for a team like FC Dallas — currently parked below the red line — to get into the playoffs. It’s an opportunity Head Coach Adrian Heath regards as a duty to the game itself.
“We have our obligation to the other teams,” said Heath. “Were we in this situation that Dallas are in, we’d expect everybody to be doing everything they can to keep it going and keep the integrity of the competition going. You know, it’s going to be a huge game because San Jose need to win to make the playoffs. So there’s a lot to play for. And I want to make sure that we’re as competitive as we can possibly be.”
This final match of the season also represents a chance for the squad to get rid of the bad taste left over from a poor showing last weekend against LA Galaxy. The Loons came out flat last Sunday against a Galaxy side that’s struggled at home all season and left Carson City with a 3-0 loss. The key to moving on for Heath is putting it behind themselves.
“We need a response from the game at the weekend,” said Heath. “I was angry after the game, because we’re better than that. And we’ve shown lately that we are better than that. I want the guys to understand that it’s really important for us to finish this season in a positive note. And if that makes us be the spoilers, then so be it. But we can only think of the integrity for the competition, doing everything that we can for everybody else. We would want it if we were in the same position. So, you know, let’s go and forget the disappointment of LA. Let’s go and get after it. And let’s give a really good professional account of ourselves.”
It’s been nearly eight months since MNUFC opened its first season as an MLS club with a rainy defeat at the hands of Portland Timbers FC in Providence Park. From the team’s first month — when they looked like they might contend for worst expansion season of all time — to their first home win against Real Salt Lake, their upsets of Sporting Kansas City and Portland Timbers FC, their first road win against the Chicago Fire and their 3-2 win over Atlanta United on the road, the Loons have never lacked for heart. They’ve bounced back from each rough or disappointing stretch and displayed flashes of dazzling potential. As Heath is not shy about saying, there remains much to be done to get the team where they want to be. Once the final whistle blows in San Jose, the offseason begins and the work doesn’t stop.
M – Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)
M/D – Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury)
M – Sam Cronin (head injury)
San Jose Earthquakes
D – Harold Cummings (leg surgery)
D – Marvell Wynne (heart abnormality)
M – Fatai Alashe (quad injury)
D – Nick Lima (hamstring injury)
- Jackson Yueill is a native of Bloomington, Minn. He was a teammate of Abu Danladi’s at UCLA from 2015 to 2016.
- Minnesota Assistant Coach Mark Watson has held multiple coaching positions with San Jose. He was an assistant from 2010 to 2013, then took over as interim head coach for the latter part of 2013. He was named Head Coach for the 2014 season.
- Cordell Cato and Kevin Molino are both members of the Trinidad and Tobago national team and natives of Carenage, Trinidad and Tobago. He was also a teammate of Burch’s on the Seattle Sounders in 2012.
- Andres Imperiale and Francisco Calvo played for Saprissa in 2016.
- Darwin Ceren played with Kevin Molino under current Loons Head Coach Adrian Heath and Assistant Coach Ian Fuller on Orlando City from 2014 to 2016.
- Shaun Francis and Christian Ramirez helped lead the Charlotte Eagles to a USL Championship appearance in 2013.
- The Loons have yet to beat a Western Conference opponent on the road.
- Both squads are 2-2-1 in their last five matches.
- Three MLS Rookie of the Year candidates could play in Sunday’s match. Minnesota’s Abu Danladi and San Jose’s Jackson Yueill and Nick Lima are all on the 2017 ballot.
- Danladi currently leads all rookies in scoring with eight goals, four of them being match-winners.
- Danladi has earned a point in four of the last six matches, with three goals and one assist.
- San Jose currently occupies the only unsecured playoff spot in the West. Two teams, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, can still catch the Earthquakes and slide into the postseason. San Jose needs to win to ensure its placement. If the Earthquakes lose or draw against Minnesota, a win by either FC Dallas or RSL would eliminate them.
- Ethan Finlay made his 160th MLS regular season appearance last week against LA.
- Bobby Shuttleworth has a career 3-2-0 record against San Jose with 17 saves, one clean sheet and a 1.00 GAA — his second-lowest GAA against at MLS team, behind Colorado at 0.87.
- Collin Martin has started in six consecutive matches.
- If Jerome Thiesson plays on Sunday, he will have appeared in all but one MNUFC match in all competitions this season.
- Ibson has won 53 dribbles since the beginning of September, the second-most in MLS.
- Christian Ramirez could make his 125th appearance for Minnesota United on Sunday. He has scored 14 goals this season, and has 67 goals in all competitions since joining the club in 2014.