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Jordan Johnson

Minnesota United FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC | 2018 MLS Match Preview

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
08.04.18 | MLS Week No. 23 | MLS Game No. 23
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North Plus, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

After the setback in Vancouver and with a five-game road trip looming, Minnesota United is seeking to recapture momentum at home this weekend as it hosts a surging Seattle Sounders side. Minnesota has won its last four and five of its last six games at home, while Seattle rolls into town with three straight wins and is unbeaten in its last six (4-0-2).

The Loons and Sounders will square off on Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

TICKETS

“Seattle has come into a little bit of form, as they always do at this time of year,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “They just bought Ruidiaz, who is a top player, and Lodeiro now is playing really well again like he was last year. It is going to be tough, but we will be ready. We have done well at home and I expect us to do the same.”

Saturday is Minnesota’s last home game until September 22 as the Loons will spend the next five weeks on the road. The Loons’ struggles away from home are well known at this point in the season, which makes three points this weekend all the more important in order to build belief ahead the road trip.

The team’s three-game winning streak is still fresh in the players’ minds and they are confident they can reclaim that form against the Sounders and put last Saturday’s loss to the Whitecaps firmly in the rearview mirror.

“It is all about momentum for us,” defender Eric Miller said. “We have to keep our home form going. We have to make sure we get three points this weekend. If we can get a home win, get a little more comfortable than we already are in 3-5-2 and try to keep that rolling then we can try to find a way to fix the road woes.”

The Loons’ 3-5-2 shape earned plenty of defensive plaudits during their winning run and held strong through the first 30-plus minutes in Vancouver, but got stretched out a bit as MNUFC aimed to get forward more, leaving more space in behind for the Whitecaps’ numerous attacking options to take advantage of.

Against Seattle — which boasts a host of threatening attacking options of its own — Minnesota will have to rectify the defensive mistakes that cost it against Vancouver. Forward Will Bruin and midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro are the centerpieces of the Sounders attack with five goals and five assists and four goals and six assists, respectively. Midfielder Cristian Roldan is not far behind with a pair of goals and five assists. With all of those players now healthy and clicking, Seattle is storming up the Western Conference table with 14 points from its last six contests after a less than auspicious start to the season.

“They have a lot of quality players,” Miller said. “They have a bunch of guys who cause a lot of problems. They are starting to get their full team healthy and they are looking more and more like the team that has gone to the last couple of finals.”

Both sides’ attacks will potentially feature a pair of newly acquired players. With Tuesday’s acquisition of an additional international spot from Colorado, MNUFC might see forward Angelo Rodriguez’s debut. Heath said the Loons’ second Designated Player is fit, available for selection and gives them an intriguing option in a crucial game.

On Seattle’s sideline is forward Raul Ruidiaz, who signed as a Designated Player in late June after a dominant two-year stint with Morelia in Liga MX. The Peruvian was one of the most dangerous attackers in Mexico over the last two seasons with 40 goals in 72 appearances. He already has an MLS goal to his credit in three appearances with the Sounders.

“He is a quality player,” Heath said of Ruidiaz. “He was a top goal scorer for two years in the Mexican league. We know all about him from his Peru days. Even going back as far as Orlando, he was a player we identified then. He is a quality player. I expect him to score goals in the league.”

After Saturday’s home game, Minnesota United will begin its five-game road trip by visiting Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, August 11. Kick off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. CT at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Pre-game coverage will begin at 9:00 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United
OUT:
D – Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg)
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
M – Maximiano (right knee)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)

Seattle Sounders
OUT:
F - Jordan Morris (ACL tear)
M - Handwalla Bwana (right midfoot sprain)

QUESTIONABLE:
M - Victor Rodriguez (right hamstring sprain)

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Christian Ramirez and Miguel Ibarra made their 50th MLS appearances for MNUFC as starters in the 4-2 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, July 28.
  • With two assists against Vancouver, Darwin Quintero now leads the Loons with eight assists on the year. He is one assist away from tying the club single-season record of nine assists set by Kevin Molino last year. It was the ninth time that an MNUFC player has had two assists in a game since the club joined MLS.
  • Quintero has gotten a goal or an assist in each of the past four games.
  • Quintero has six goals and six assists in the past six games.
  • Ibson is currently on a two-game point streak after contributing an assist against LAFC and goal in Vancouver.
  • Quintero was added to the MLS All-Star roster on Monday, July 30. He joined fellow Loon, Costa Rica international and club captain Francisco Calvo in Atlanta to represents MNUFC and the league vs. Italian club Juventus in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, August 1.
  • Carter Manley has been loaned to Las Vegas Lights FC of the USL. He has made seven appearances for MNUFC since being selected 23rd overall in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
  • Abu Danladi made his first appearance in seven matches vs. Vancouver after an extended injury absence and scored his first goal of the season to mark his return to the squad.
  • Sounders FC is currently unbeaten in its past six games, with four wins and two draws in that run.
  • MNUFC is tied for the second-most home wins in MLS. Its eight victories at TCF Bank Stadium are only bested by New York City FC’s 10 at Yankee Stadium.
  • Seattle was the MLS Cup runner-up last season, falling to Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Final. It won the 2016 MLS Cup by beating Toronto on penalty kicks.
  • Sounders FC is tied for the second-most ejections this season, with four players being sent off. Vancouver Whitecaps FC leads MLS with seven.
  • MNUFC is tied for the sixth-most multi-goal games with 12 so far in 2018. Seattle is tied for the second-fewest with eight.
  • Sounders FC’s 1.05 goals-per-game average is the lowest in MLS. MNUFC currently averages 1.59 goals per game.
  • The Loons’ 14.8 scoring percentage is the second-best in the league. Seattle currently has the lowest at 8.8%.
  • MNUFC is the most accurate team in MLS with 41.8% of total shots ending up on target.
  • Darwin Quintero and Raul Ruidiaz both joined MLS this season from Mexico’s first division, Liga MX. Peru international Ruidiaz signed as a Designated Player for Sounders FC from Morelia in June, while Quintero joined the Loons at the end of March as a DP from Club América.
  • MNUFC Assistant Coach Mark Watson played for Seattle during its USL days, donning the Sounders’ green in 1997.
  • Marc Burch played for Sounders FC in 2012 and 2013.
  • Clint Dempsey and Miguel Ibarra played together on the U.S. national team in 2014 and 2015.
  • Nouhou Tolo and Frantz Pangop are both natives of Douala, Cameroon.
  • Seyi Adekoya and Abu Danladi both played for UCLA from 2014 through 2016.
  • Chad Marshall, Ethan Finlay and Matt Lampson were teammates on Columbus Crew SC in 2012 and 2013.
  • Will Bruin, Calle Brown and Collen Warner both played for the Houston Dynamo in 2016.
  • Lamar Neagle and Collin Martin were on D.C. United’s roster in 2016.
  • Waylon Francis and Francisco Calvo are both members of the Costa Rica national team and were teammates at Herediano in 2013.
  • Francis and Finlay were teammates on Crew SC from 2014 through 2017.
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