Brent vs Cincy
© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Cincinnati | 2019 MLS Match Preview

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. FC CINCINNATI
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
06.29.2019 | MLS Week No. 17 | MLS Game No. 17 | Presented by Cub
3:00 p.m. CT (ESPN, WatchESPN app, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2019 Records:
MIN: 6-7-3. 3-1-3 at home
CIN: 3-12-2, 1-8-1 on the road

Minnesota United kicks off the second half of its 2019 MLS season as it hosts expansion side FC Cincinnati at Allianz Field. Last Tuesday, an 89th minute Mason Toye goal completed a stunning 3-2 comeback as MNUFC downed Houston Dynamo on the road, advancing to the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Off the back of two successive wins in cup competition, the Loons will look to carry that success back to MLS action with an important home game against a struggling FC Cincinnati side.

The game kicks off at 3:00 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, streaming on the ESPN app and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North. You can also follow along with timely game updates on Twitter by following @MNUFCMatch.

Minnesota’s last gasp 3-2 win in the sweltering heat of Houston, Texas, was a huge one for the visiting side. With Darwin Quintero grabbing another brace — including a wonderfully curled effort from distance and a sensational combination with fellow attacker Angelo Rodriguez — the win sets the Loons up for success this Saturday. Having scored seven goals in their last two games, the MNUFC attack has also improved in confidence at a crucial moment.

“Certainly morale and confidence,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath when asked about the effect of the Loons’ recent Open Cup victories. “Nothing beats winning. The fact that Darwin got another couple goals, the fact that their [Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero] little combination looked very, very good. I can work as much as I want on the training facility but playing in games, winning games, that does wonders for players’ confidence and for the team’s confidence.”

While the Loons have found success in the Open Cup, they are without a win in their last three MLS fixtures. Playing at home in league play will definitely be a welcome sight for MNUFC. They will look to bolster their impressive home record, having lost only once this season in a close game against the Philadelphia Union. From an attacking explosion to solid defensive performances, the Open Cup provided MNUFC with a positive jump in its form but how will this translate back to Saturday’s MLS game against FC Cincinnati?

“There’s been a lot of really strong performances in the last two Open Cup games against two good teams,” said Heath. “I just think that the confidence level in the group is coming back and if we can keep everybody fit, we are at the stage now where we’ve got nearly a full complement of players. We’ve got a really big period for us coming up, a couple of big important games, one in the Open Cup and then we’ve got two home games against two teams in our conference so it’s going to be important.”

FC Cincinnati — who haven’t won an MLS game since May 11 — will look to surprise the Loons and put on a strong performance on the road. While they’ve had some tough results recently, Cincinnati did take a point in a 1-1 draw when they visited Atlanta United on March 11, a stadium that many teams struggle to take a result from. Adrian Heath was sure to note that Saturday’s game wouldn’t just be a cut and dry three points for the Loons.

“I expect them to bring professionalism,” said Heath. “I know that at the moment, for them, it’s not been what they would’ve liked. I also know because we were in that position a couple of years ago but if you keep believing in what you’re doing then you have an opportunity to win games in this league. If we underestimate them, then I think we’ll face the consequences.”

Minnesota United, who joined MLS as an expansion side in 2017, are no stranger to facing growing pains in its inaugural season. In 2017, the Loons sat in the bottom half of the Western Conference throughout the season eventually finishing in 9th place. Midfielder Ethan Finlay, who joined MNUFC in 2017 recalls what it was like as a new team struggling in its first season.

“I look back on 2017 and our inaugural year and I think of us at the bottom of the table,” said Finlay. “We were going into places and getting results, going to places like Chicago and getting results. [An upset] can happen when you face a team that is down and that has almost nothing to lose. These are guys who are fighting, fighting for minutes. You’ve got a lot of new faces as well who haven’t had the opportunity, who want to be a part of this team going forward.”

Much like the Loons recently, FC Cincinnati will miss some of their key players through injuries and international duty. The likes of Fanendo Adi and Darren Mattocks, Kendall Waston and Allan Cruz will all be missing for FC Cincinnati. Just in time for the Loons, Jan Gregus, Rasmus Schuller and Kevin Molino all return to the fray following international duty for their respective countries. Regardless of the absences the visitors will face, Finlay was still cautious of some of the inherent quality that Cincinnati has throughout their squad.

“They’ve got capable players throughout the midfield,” said Finlay. “Victor Ulloa is a player that we’re very familiar with from playing at Dallas. They’ve got quality, they’ve got some international products they brought over. [They’re] still a very good team. I think for us it’s really about worrying about us. The scouting report for me is we take care of our business and then we’ll get a result come Saturday.”

Minnesota United’s next game is a midweek battle against Western Conference foes, San Jose Earthquakes, on Wednesday, July 3. The game will start at 7:00 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United FC

OUT: F – Abu Danladi (right leg)
OUT: M – Collin Martin Manley (right ankle)

FC Cincinnati

OUT: M – Jimmy McLaughlin (right ACL surgery)
OUT: D – Greg Garza (right calf)
OUT: M – Roland Lamah (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: F – Fanendo Adi (hamstring)

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Justin Hoyte and Vito Mannone played for Arsenal from 2006 to 2008.
  • Darren Mattocks and Michael Boxall were teammates on Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2012.
  • Kekuta Manneh and Ethan Finlay were teammates on Columbus Crew SC for the first half of 2017 season.
  • This is the first league meeting between these two teams.
  • FC Cincinnati joined MLS for the 2019 season after three years of playing in the USL.
  • MNUFC and FC Cincinnati first met in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup. The Loons won the game in a penalty shootout after a scoreless 120 minutes of play.
  • This is Minnesota’s first league game since June 8.
  • MNUFC has played two games in the U.S. Open Cup since June 12. The Loons defeated Sporting Kansas City 4-1 at home in the Fourth Round before staging a 3-2 comeback win at Houston Dynamo in the Round of 16.
  • The win in Houston was the first time since 2017 that the Loons have won a game after trailing at halftime.
  • MNUFC will host New Mexico United in the Open Cup Quarterfinals on July 10.
  • Darwin Quintero has four goals in his last two appearances for the Loons.
  • Quintero now has 20 goals in all competitions for the Loons, one away from tying the all-time club record since joining MLS.
  • Mason Toye scored his first MNUFC goal on June 18 against Houston Dynamo. His last-minute finish sealed the win for Minnesota.
  • This is the first of seven games in 22 days for MNUFC. It will play five league games, one Open Cup game and one international friendly. Five of the seven games will be at home.
  • Cincinnati has won one of its last 13 games. The win came a week after firing Head Coach Alan Koch.
  • Cincinnati is currently on a five-game losing streak.
  • Leonardo Bertone scored Cincinnati’s first MLS goal in its first MLS game on March 2 against Seattle Sounders FC. Cincinnati would lose its opener 4-1.
  • Bertone is suspended for this game due to yellow card accumulation.
  • MNUFC defender Romain Metanire was named to the 2019 MLS All-Star Team by All-Star Head Coach James O’Connor earlier this week. The All-Stars will play Atletico Madrid on July 31 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
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