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Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Minnesota United FC | 2018 MLS Match Preview

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
BC Place | Vancouver, British Colombia
07.28.18 | MLS Week No. 22 | MLS Game No. 22
9:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North Plus, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

Fresh off of a 12-point home stand and with a three-game winning streak in hand, Minnesota United rides a wave of confidence into the Pacific Northwest for a match-up with Vancouver Whitecaps in a meeting of two sides fighting to rise above the red line in the Western Conference. The two teams are on opposite ends of the momentum spectrum with the Whitecaps coming into the weekend losers of two straight and four of their last five.

Minnesota and Vancouver will kick off on Saturday, July 28 at 9:00 p.m. CT from BC Place. Pre-game coverage will commence at 8:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

“I want us to take in the confidence that we have from these home games,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “If we do, I think we can give a good account of ourselves. We know Vancouver is good at home. It becomes a big game for us, but equally for them as well. We expect a very difficult game. They have a lot of weapons in the forward areas and we are going to have to defend well. We know that.”

The Loons’ July surge has them believing again and on the cusp of playoff position. With three straight wins to its credit, Minnesota is now just two points back of sixth place in the Western Conference and can rise higher than that with a three-point effort in Vancouver. But for MNUFC to inject real vigor into its push for the postseason, it must translate its home field swagger onto the road and overcome its season-long struggles away from home.

Minnesota’s away form is a well-worn tale at this point of the season, but the storyline will continue to dog the team until it remedies its road woes. MNUFC has lost seven straight on the road and is 1-8-0 away from home overall. Starting this weekend against the Whitecaps, six of the Loons’ next seven games are on the road, meaning the fix will have to come quick for their playoff chase to take hold.

“We are certainly going there in a better frame of mind,” Heath said. “Everybody is aware of our struggles on the road. If we are going to take this season deep into the end of the year and give ourselves a chance at the playoffs then we have to improve our away form. We have spoke about it, we have gone through it and now it is up to us to actually go and do it on the field now. Talk is cheap on the road. Sometimes it is about standing up and being counted.”

Vancouver is coming off of back-to-back losses but they will see an opportunity to reverse that trend at home. The Whitecaps are unbeaten in eight of 10 games (4-2-4) at BC Place this season and they have historically been tough at their home ground — something Minnesota knows all too well after last season’s 3-0 loss there.

Led by forward Kei Kamara’s eight goals and midfield starlet Alphonso Davies’ eight assists, Vancouver’s attack boasts considerable size and pace up front. Whether Davies is available for selection after this week’s MLS-record move to Bayern Munich remains to be seen, but regardless, MNUFC is aware of the overall threat the Whitecaps present.

“They have always been really good at home,” Heath said. “When you look at them you look at the size they have. They are probably the biggest, most physical team within the league. They have a lot of size and they have really good attacking pieces. They are going to have a lot of threats, but more importantly we are going there in a better frame of mind than we probably ever have.”

The Loons’ improved mental state is largely fueled by their Darwin Quintero-led attack. The offense is clicking right now and MNUFC looks as dangerous going forward as it ever has. It is coming off of a season-best five goal outing and will look to take advantage of a Whitecaps team that has conceded the most goals in the conference this season.

After Saturday’s match, Minnesota United will be back home against Seattle Sounders next Saturday before embarking on a five-game road swing. Kickoff against the Sounders is scheduled for Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. CT at TCF Bank Stadium. Pre-game 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
OUT:
M - Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M - Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)
M - Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
D - Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg injury)

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Kendall Waston and Francisco Calvo are captains of their respective clubs and teammates on Costa Rica’s national team.
  • Waston and Calvo played for Perez Zeledon in 2012.
  • Michael Boxall played the 2011 season with Vancouver Whitecaps FC after being taken by the club in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft.
  • Stefan Marinovic and Boxall are both members of the New Zealand national team.
  • Brek Shea, Jose Aja and Kevin Molino were teammates on Orlando City SC under Adrian Heath in 2016.
  • Shea and Miguel Ibarra shared the field as members of the U.S. national team on February 8, 2015 in a friendly match against Panama.
  • Sean Franklin and Collin Martin were both in the D.C. United organization from 2014 to 2016. Martin spent much of that time on loan to Richmond Kickers.
  • Felipe and Collen Warner were teammates on Montreal Impact from 2012-14.
  • Kei Kamara and Finlay were teammates on Columbus Crew SC from 2015–16. Kamara was traded to New England Revolution in 2016, where he joined Bobby Shuttleworth.
  • MNUFC has won three consecutive games for the first time since joining MLS. It has also won four straight games at home.
  • The Loons’ 5-1 victory over LAFC set several club records. It was the most goals scored (5), assists (7) and shots on goal (11) by MNUFC in a match. It also tied the club’s 4-0 win over D.C. United for largest margin of victory.
  • Minnesota’s five goals against LAFC tied the team for second-most goals scored in an MLS game and second-most goals scored in the first half of a game this season (3).
  • Four MNUFC players had multiple points against LAFC: Rasmus Schuller (1G/1A), Christian Ramirez (2G/1A), Darwin Quintero (1G/2A) and Miguel Ibarra (1G/1A).
  • Schuller scored his first MLS goal against LAFC in 27 MLS appearances.
  • Ibarra’s assist was his 10th since MNUFC joined MLS, drawing him level with Kevin Molino for the club record.
  • Ibarra scored the lone goal to give the Loons a victory over Whitecaps FC in the last meeting between the teams.
  • Quintero set new single-game club records with seven shots on goal and five shots on target in the 5-1 win against LAFC.
  • Quintero has been a part of at least one goal in the past three games. He has three goals and four assists during that stretch.
  • Romario Ibarra made his MNUFC debut against LAFC, entering as a second-half substitute and playing the final 12 minutes of the game.
  • Collen Warner made his 200th MLS regular-season appearance against LAFC. He has made 35 appearances for MNUFC.
  • Ibson became the first MNUFC player to make 50 MLS appearances for the club. Both Ibarra and Ramirez are set to reach the 50-game mark the next time they take the field for the Loons.
  • Six members of MNUFC made the MLS Team of the Week for Week 21. Quintero, Ramirez and Bobby Shuttleworth made the starting lineup, while Brent Kallman and Ibarra were on the bench and Adrian Heath earned a nod as Head Coach.
  • Shuttleworth has now won 17 matches with the Loons. He has made six saves in back-to-back matches.
  • Whitecaps FC recently agreed to transfer 17-year-old midfielder Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga. Davies will remain with Vancouver through the end of the season before moving to Germany.
  • Vancouver’s Efrain Juarez will be unavailable after receiving a red card during the club’s match against Seattle Sounders FC on July 21. Vancouver has had seven players ejected from matches this season.

 

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