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Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC | 2018 MLS Match Preview

COLORADO RAPIDS vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Dick’s Sporting Good Park | Commerce City, Colorado
06.23.18 | MLS Week No. 17 | MLS Game No. 15
8:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2018 Records:
COL: 2-9-3, 2-4-2 at home
MIN: 5-8-1, 1-6-0 on the road

Nearly three weeks removed from its last league match, Minnesota United gets back into the swing of MLS play on Saturday night with a crucial Western Conference road match against a beleaguered Colorado Rapids side. Colorado is winless with just one point from its last nine matches, while MNUFC is seeking to halt a two-match losing skid.

This weekend’s match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park kicks off on Saturday, June 23 at 8:00 p.m. CT. Pre-match coverage will commence at 7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports Go and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

“We’ve been preparing now for the Colorado game for maybe the last 10 days because we haven’t had an MLS game in weeks,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “We have had enough time to look at them and see what their strengths and weaknesses are, so let’s see if we can go and exploit them.”

The Rapids snapped an eight-match losing streak in its last outing, settling for a 2-2 draw at home against Chicago Fire on Wednesday, June 13 after staking themselves to an early 2-0 advantage. Minnesota, meanwhile, has lost two straight and dropped to ninth place in the Western Conference and six points back of a playoff position as a result.

Considering Colorado’s disappointing run of form, the Loons’ players have described this weekend’s game as “massive” and a near “must-win” for them as they look to right the ship and get back into the postseason conversation.

“We do not want to be the team they start to find their form against,” Kallman said. “It is hard to get points on the road in the league, but it is really important that we go in there and we get three points. It is kind of a must-win game for us if we want to get back into the playoff picture.”

The Rapids, though, will no doubt see an opportunity to take advantage of an MNUFC side that has struggled away from home this season. The Loons have dropped their last five road matches and have been out-scored 15-4 in those contests. Heath has chalked Minnesota’s struggles up to not being as mentally prepared on the road as it is at home, while goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth believes his team just needs to keep things simple to reverse their away form.

“We have to get back to doing the things we do well more often,” Shuttleworth said. “On the road we have a tendency to open up a bit too much. For us it is about keeping our shape, limiting their chances and getting blocks of crosses and shots when we need to. We have to dig in and limit their chances.”

Saturday’s match is also a chance to erase the bitter taste left by Monday’s 1-0 U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 loss in Houston. What was simultaneously frustrating and encouraging was the chances were there for MNUFC against the Dynamo, but the Loons failed to capitalize and seize control of the match when they had the chance.

Heath preaches that goals change matches and in opportune moments against the Dynamo, Minnesota did not take its opportunities, but he noted he will be pleased if his team can create anywhere near the number of chances it did against the Dynamo on Saturday against the Rapids.

“On any other day we could have had three or four goals,” Heah said. “We created enough opportunities on Monday to have won the game. I thought between both boxes we were excellent with our ball movement, circulation and our possession. We got the ball in the right areas.”

Following its match in Colorado, Minnesota United returns home after a month-long absence to face FC Dallas on Friday, June 29. The Loons and Dallas will square off at 7:00 p.m. CT at TCF Bank Stadium. Pre-match coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports Go and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United FC
QUESTIONABLE:
D - Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg)
D - Eric Miller (left hamstring)

OUT:
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
D – Marc Burch (left knee surgery)
GK – Matt Lampson (right knee injury)
F – Abu Danladi (left leg injury)

Colorado Rapids
OUT:
D – Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain)
D – Axel Sjoberg (concussion)

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Sam Nicholson played for MNUFC before being traded to Colorado Rapids in exchange for Eric Miller and $50,000 in General Allocation Money on May 2, 2018.
  • Sam Cronin and Marc Burch were also members of Colorado before being traded to Minnesota in 2017.
  • Shkelzen Gashi and Jerome Thiesson are both natives of Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Collen Warner is a native of Denver, Colorado.
  • Tim Howard and Mason Toye are both from New Jersey. Toye was born in South Orange, just 30 miles from Howard’s hometown of North Brunswick.
  • Kip Colvey, Tommy Smith, Deklan Wynne and Michael Boxall are all members of the New Zealand national team.
  • Bismark Adjei-Boateng and Tyrone Mears are both products of the Manchester City Academy. Boateng came to City from the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, where he and Abu Danladi played until 2011.
  • Micheal Azira and Mears were teammates on Seattle Sounders FC in 2015.
  • Andrew Dryska and Collin Martin were a part of the D.C. United organization from 2013 through 2016. Both spent time on loan with Richmond Kickers.
  • Colorado is coming off a 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire in league play, extending its winless run to nine matches. The Rapids were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup by the USL’s Nashville FC in the Fourth Round by a 2-0 margin.
  • MNUFC was eliminated from the Open Cup on Monday, June 18 with a 1-0 loss to Houston Dynamo in the Round of 16.
  • The trip to Colorado will be the Loons’ first MLS match in 20 days (last time out was a 4-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City).
  • MNUFC earned its first-ever MLS point versus Colorado, claiming a 2-2 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on March 18, 2017.
  • Miguel Ibarra scored his first MLS goal on April 23, 2017 against Colorado. He has five goals and seven assists in his MLS career.
  • Colorado has committed the third-most fouls in the league with 213 this season. Minnesota has 184 for the fifth-highest total.
  • The Rapids lead MLS with 43 cautions in 2018.
  • Colorado is the only team averaging less than one assist per match.
  • Both MNUFC and Colorado are averaging 1.86 goals against this season.
  • Minnesota goalkeepers have made 62 saves this season. It is the second-highest total in the league behind Montreal Impact’s 74.
  • Rasmus Schuller and Dominique Badji have committed the second and third most fouls in the league, with 32 and 31 respectively.
  • Badji is one of five players to have scored a hat trick in 2018.
  • Ibarra is one of four players with three match-winning assists.
  • Ibarra has a 71.4% shooting accuracy this season, the second-best in the league.
  • Jack Price is one of two players who have six yellow cards already this season.
  • Price is the only Rapids player to have scored and assisted a match-winning goal this season.
  • Sam Nicholson scored one goal and had one assist while with Minnesota in 2018. He has one assist for Colorado since joining the club.
  • Both of Colorado’s wins have come at home. Its last win came on April 14 against defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC.
  • Marc Burch is the only player to earn an assist while playing for Colorado against Minnesota.
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