PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Talen Energy Stadium | Chester, Pennsylvania
10.06.2018 | MLS Week No. 32 | MLS Game No. 31
6:30 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North Plus, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)
PHI: 14-12-5, 8-5-2 at home
MIN: 11-16-3, 1-12-2 on the road
Winners of their last two, the Loons hit the road for their final trip to the East Coast this season to face the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium for the first time in their MLS history. Although MNUFC is still in search of an elusive second road win after topping Orlando City SC all the way back in March, the team has reason to believe that forward Angelo Rodriguez’s brace last weekend against NYCFC augurs an uptick in scoring for the Colombian and that overall good health will bolster their consistency. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is looking to shore up their position in the playoff race and possibly clinch with a win and vault themselves over Columbus Crew SC, who are on a bye this week.
The teams will kick off on Saturday, October 6 at 6:30 p.m. CT with pre-game coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
“We had two very good results at home and we know about our past performances away,” said defender Jerome Thiesson, who has struggled with nagging injuries this season but played a full 90 against NYCFC at right back. “There are not a lot of opportunities to make it right left. We want to grab the ones that present themselves by the head. The first one is now in Philly.”
Although many have written the team off, Minnesota United is still alive in the hunt for the playoffs, although it’s a tall task with a loss at Philly or a tie followed by one of a few positive results for other Western Conference teams eliminating the Loons. Nonetheless, with winnable games coming up at home against the Rapids and Galaxy, you can bet on Head Coach Adrian Heath doing whatever he can to keep the season alive.
“Before the Salt Lake game we said, ‘Can we make this like a seven-game season now and see where it leaves us?’” said Heath. “We conceivably should have taken three points in Salt Lake with our second half performance and then we have had two wins against two really good teams — both teams that are cemented into the playoffs. It has been a good couple of weeks for us and now we have to go into it in Philly. I want to take this as far as we can. We are still not mathematically out of anything yet. We know it is going to difficult, but if we were to pick up another three points in Philly and then with two home games to come, we will see.”
MNUFC will be looking for Angelo Rodriguez’s current goalscoring run to continue. The striker joined the team in July, but he only opened his MLS scoring account in mid-September against D.C. United. With two goals last week, though, his potential as both a pest to backlines as the first defender and his ability to hold up play and allow players like Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra to get into the action was on display.
“For a striker, it is always important to get off on a nice little run,” said Heath. “He got his goal in D.C. and picked up a slight knock, so he was disappointed not to play against Portland. As it always is in football, it comes around very quickly. He got two goals and that will do his confidence a lot of good. We know what he can do. As I said before the game at the weekend, we did not bring Romario, Angelo and all of those guys in for five or six games. This is the beginning.”
Philadelphia has been one of the league’s surprises this season, taking advantage of poor seasons from recent playoff teams or playoff hopefuls like Toronto FC, Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC to boss its way into the playoff race. Playing with a young backline for much of the season and managing a disappointing season from forward C.J. Sapong with outstanding play from a midfield featuring Borek Dockal’s 15 assists and strong play from Haris Medujanin, Alejandro Bedoya and Fafa Picault, the Union have shown admirable grit. The team also made the U.S. Open Cup final, falling to Houston Dynamo 3-1.
“I think Jim [Curtin] has done a great job,” said Heath. “He has not had a lot to work with over a lot of years. I don’t think it is a coincidence that they have put one or two pieces together and they are having their best year. They did great to reach the Open Cup final. They will be disappointed with that. If they make the playoffs, Jim has had a great year and the team has. I have watched some of their games this year and they have been excellent and on the road as well. They have played some real good football.”
Minnesota United next returns home to face the Colorado Rapids at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, October 13 in a game that kicks off at 1:00 p.m. CT. Pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, 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)
M – Collin Martin (right ankle)
M – Romario Ibarra (right leg)
F – Abu Danladi (right leg)
D – Josh Yaro (right adductor strain)
D – Matt Real (left knee sprain)
M – Ilsinho (quad strain)
- Collen Warner and Warren Creavalle played at Toronto FC in 2014 and 2015.
- Kevin Molino was briefly teammates with C.J. Sapong when the latter was loaned to Orlando City SC in 2013.
- Fabinho was in Flamengo’s youth system in 2003 when Ibson was with the senior squad.
- Jim Curtin and Amos Magee were teammates in 2001 and 2002 with the Chicago Fire.
- Bertrand Owundi Eko’o and Olivier Mbaizo played at Rainbow FC in 2017. Mbaizo was teammates with Frantz Pangop the year prior on Union Douala.
- Abu Danladi, David Accam and Josh Yaro graduated from the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana. Accam and Matt Lampson were teammates on the Chicago Fire in 2016 and 2017.
- Eric Miller and Fabian Herbers played for Creighton University in 2013.
- Ángelo Rodríguez scored multiple goals in a game for the first time with MNUFC in the 2-1 victory over NYCFC on Saturday, September 29. His second goal was his first game-winner with the club.
- Rodríguez earned his first MLS Team of the Week award for Week 31, claiming a spot on the bench following his brace.
- Darwin Quintero was credited an assist on Rodríguez’s first goal, extending his assist streak to three games.
- MNUFC won its 11th game of the season last weekend against NYCFC, setting a new club record.
- Collen Warner will miss the game against Philadelphia Union after receiving a red card against NYCFC. This was the sixth ejection for MNUFC this season.
- Bobby Shuttleworth is two minutes away from 5000 career minutes played for Minnesota.
- With the win over NYCFC, MNUFC has now won back-to-back games for the first time since July 22.
- The Loons are 6-3-0 against Eastern Conference opponents in 2018.
- Maximiano and Fernando Bob rejoin the squad this week after serving one-game suspensions last week.
- Philadelphia can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win over MNUFC.
- The Union last made the playoffs in 2016.
- A loss would eliminate the Loons from playoff contention.
- Shuttleworth made two saves last time the Loons and the Union met. Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake stopped five shots in the draw.
- Blake won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2016. He had six shutouts and made 99 saves during the season and became the first Union player to win an individual end-of-season award.
- MNUFC has not scored a second-half goal in the past two games.
- The Union have lost just once in their past nine league games, going 6-1-2 in that stretch.
- This is Minnesota’s first visit to Talen Energy Stadium.
- This will be the club’s first game in Pennsylvania.