By the time Minnesota United and Portland Timbers match up on Saturday, it will have been 49 days since the Loons last graced the field at TCF Bank Stadium in front of their own supporters. That extended time away has players and coaches alike longing for the comforts of home and motivated for a strong finish to the 2018 campaign.
Despite some disappointing results, the five-game road trip proved to Head Coach Adrian Heath that his side has the ability to go toe-to-toe with the best in MLS. He was encouraged by the strong second half effort in last weekend’s draw with Real Salt Lake and wants to see that momentum carry over to this Saturday’s homecoming.
“The last two teams we have played, D.C. and Salt Lake, are probably the most in-form teams in both conferences,” Heath said. “I was really pleased in the second half performance (against RSL). We have to take some positives from that. We have a couple of weeks at home now, let’s hopefully go and get some points on the board.”
Minnesota has found a lot of success at TCF Bank Stadium this season. The Loons are 8-4-1 in 13 games at home and 25 of the team’s 30 points on the season have come there. MNUFC has established a good rhythm within its friendly confines and are eager to fall back into familiar habits and routines.
“It feels great knowing that we are going to finally play at home in front of our fans again,” midfielder Miguel Ibarra said. “We are all just really excited to get out there already. It has been a long time since we have been home. We know we are a strong team at home, so I think we are going to be ready.”
Starting this weekend against Portland, MNUFC plays four of its final six games this season at home. With the Loons moving into their permanent home at Allianz Field next spring, these last six weeks of the season will serve as a send-off of sorts for TCF Bank Stadium, which has treated the team well and served as the stage for 15 wins and a host of other memorable moments.
That send-off starts on Saturday with a tough task against the Timbers, who come in hungry to cement their standing in the Western Conference playoff race.
“It is important that we go and finish the season strong at home and give our supporters something to cheer,” Heath said. “They have been absolutely magnificent for us all year. Our home form has been excellent and hopefully that continues.”