REAL SALT LAKE vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, Utah
09.15.2018 | MLS Week No. 29 | MLS Game No. 28
8:30 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)
RSL: 13-10-5, 10-1-3 at home
MIN: 9-16-2, 1-12-1 on the road
Just a few days after dropping a game on the East Coast 2-1 to D.C. United, Minnesota United has gotten back on the road and traveled most of the way back across the country for a game against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CT and pre-game coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
The short turnaround will prove a challenge for a Loons squad that’s often found itself shorthanded this season, but it will also mark the return of defenders Francisco Calvo and Michael Boxall from suspension and midfielders Romario Ibarra and Rasmus Schuller from international call-ups. Add in solid performances from midfielders Maximiano and Fernando Bob (making his MNUFC debut), plus a first MLS goal for forward Angelo Rodriguez and the return of Darwin Quintero, and Head Coach Adrian Heath is at least encouraged that they’ll be able to field something close to a usual starting XI against the Claret-and-Cobalt.
“We have three or four of what we class as more regular starters back,” he said. “There were some positives from the D.C. game. I was so pleased with the contribution of Fernando Bob and Maxi. It was good for Angelo [Rodriguez] to get off on the mark. Darwin [Quintero] looked sharp after his layoff. There were some positives out of the game, but we have another really tough game.”
Real Salt Lake has been on something of a tear recently, ripping off a 6-0 win in Colorado against the Rapids and a 6-2 victory over the Galaxy in Los Angeles in the last two weeks. After a rough start, they’ve gone 10-5-4 in the past four months and currently sit fourth in the Western Conference. A major part of that surge has been the emergence of Damir Kreilach — typically a center midfielder — as a go-to scoring threat with 10 goals and six assists.
“They are obviously playing with a lot of confidence and they are really good at home,” said Heath. “Their front four of [Joao] Plata on one side, [Jefferson] Savarino with bags of pace and very good one-on-one ability, [Albert] Rusnak is probably one of the best No. 10s in the league and the big guy, Kreilach, has come on and given them a real focal point up there. It is going to be a tough one, but as I have said, we are at the stage of the season where I want to go and try to win the game.”
The team’s tilt against Real Salt Lake will mark the end of a five-game road trip and tip the remaining schedule firmly in the Loons’ favor with four of the final six games of the regular season at TCF Bank Stadium. At home, the Loons have rung up eight wins, and the team will be looking to get their backline solidified and hope for the connection between Quintero and Rodriguez to keep building. Against D.C., it was MNUFC who struck first before conceding a pair of goals too easily, in the coach’s estimation.
“It would be great to think that we can come in and get three points and then that sets up for a couple of home games,” said Heath. “We have been really, really good at home. It has been well-documented, and I am not trying to hide the fact, that we certainly have not been good enough on the road. Even the other night, considering how well we played at times, they were two soft goals and we have to stop that. With Boxall back and Calvo back, maybe we can get more of what we consider as a starting back four and if we have a little bit of luck, get goals and get opportunities at the right time then maybe we can go and get a result.”
Following the game in Utah, the team returns to Minnesota for a game against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m. CT. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota United FC
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear – out for season)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear – out for season)
D – Jerome Thiesson (right ankle sprain)
D – Francisco Calvo (right thigh injury)
M – Alexi Gomez (left thigh injury)
Real Salt Lake
GK – Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery)
GK – Connor Sparrow (knee injury)
D – Tony Beltran (right knee surgery)
D – David Horst (Achilles surgery)
M – Jordan Allen (knee surgery)
M – Luke Mullholland (back injury)
F – Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee surgery)
D – Marcelo Silva (ankle injury)
- Angelo Rodriguez scored his first goal for MNUFC last match. His 47th minute strike opened the scoring against D.C. United on Wednesday.
- Fernando Bob made his club debut on Wednesday night. He played 77 minutes and made two key interceptions.
- Bobby Shuttleworth surpassed Ibson as the all-time minutes leader for the Loons last night. The New York native has tended the MNUFC net for 4,728 minutes.
- Darwin Quintero returned to the squad after missing two games due to injury. He took five shots in the last game to tie the club single-season shots record of 60.
- Marc Burch and Jerome Thiesson made their first starts after being sidelined due to injury. Before Wednesday’s game, Burch had not started since April 22 and Thiesson since May 20.
- Abu Danladi and Brent Kallman made their 40th MLS appearances on Wednesday against D.C. United.
- The next time Eric Miller takes the field, he will be making his 100th MLS regular season appearance.
- Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo rejoin the squad after serving one-match suspensions for yellow card accumulation.
- Romario Ibarra and Rasmus Schuller also return to the team after representing their countries in international play. Schuller assisted Finland’s game-winning goal against Estonia and Romario scored the third international goal of his career against Guatemala.
- Real Salt Lake has scored six goals in back-to-back games. It defeated Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado Rapids 6-0 on the road, followed by a 6-2 home win over LA Galaxy.
- Minnesota won the last meeting with RSL, kicking off a three-game winning streak back in July.
- Ibson (1G), Burch (1A), Calvo (2A), Sam Cronin (1G), Ethan Finlay (2G/1A), Miguel Ibarra (1G), Kevin Molino (1G/2A) and Quintero (1G/2A) all have career points against RSL.
- Shuttleworth has 31 career saves and two clean sheets when playing against RSL.
- Shuttleworth made eight saves when the Loons last visited Rio Tinto Stadium, setting a then-club record.
- MNUFC is averaging one goal a game in its last six games.
- Luke Mulholland played for Minnesota United in the NASL era of the club’s history. He joined the club late in 2011, helping it to the 2011 NASL Championship.
- Collen Warner began his career with RSL after being drafted 15th overall by the club in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He played two seasons with the club.
- David Horst and Warner were teammates on the Houston Dynamo in 2016.
- Luis Silva and Collin Martin were both on D.C. United’s roster from 2013 to 2015.
- Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Miguel Ibarra have played together on the U.S. national team. Rimando has tended goal in all three of Ibarra’s appearances, starting on October 14, 2014 against Honduras. They then took the field together on February 8, 2015 against Panama followed by a match against Mexico on April 15, 2015 where they were joined by Beckerman.
- Tony Beltran, Rimando, Jose Hernandez and Abu Danladi all played college soccer for UCLA.
- Connor Sparrow, Ricky Lopez, Brent Kallman, Ethan Finlay and Eric Miller played for Creighton University when they were in college.