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What to Watch For: Portland Timbers vs. MNUFC

Meeting for the third time in all competitions this season, Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers have become quite familiar foes. The Timbers have yet to beat MNUFC in 2019, losing in MLS play and then bowing out of the U.S. Open Cup Semi-finals via the Loons just days later. On the other hand, Minnesota United has yet to travel to Providence Park and get any kind of result in its MLS era. Sitting just above the playoff line, the Portland Timbers are in dire need of points and will be determined to avoid losing to MNUFC three times in 2019. This afternoon’s 90 minutes promises to keep you on the edge of your seat in what will be a riveting game between the two sides.

Get the Brooms Out
For the third time in 50 days, Minnesota United faces off against the Portland Timbers – have we gotten tired of hearing that yet? The two sides first met in MLS play on August 4 when a 90th minute penalty kick from Ethan Finlay secured a dramatic three points for the Loons. Just three days later, MNUFC hosted Portland in the Semi-finals of the U.S. Open Cup in which a picturesque goal from Mason Toye sent the home side to the Final in Atlanta. While both triumphs came at Allianz Field, Minnesota United will now have to travel to Providence Park for the first time this season. If MNUFC can take three points in Portland this afternoon, it will complete a three-game sweep of the Timbers this season – not to mention it would be the first time that the Loons have ever taken points from Providence Park. MNUFC previously had the opportunity to complete a season sweep of the Houston Dynamo last week but it dropped a frustrating 2-0 result on the road. A win in Portland would also mark the first time that the Loons have ever beaten a team three times in a single season.

Triple Threat
In MNUFC’s significant 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Sunday, Head Coach Adrian Heath deployed an attacking midfield trio of Kevin Molino, Robin Lod and Darwin Quintero. While Molino and Lod started out wide, they both interchangeably swapped flanks and looked to dirft in-field to create danger. With the two wide players vacating space, it left room for Darwin Quintero to play more of a free role as he pushed higher up the field alongside forward Mason Toye. Adrian Heath’s side is 3-0-0 this season when starting with a midfield three of Molino, Lod and Quintero. Not to mention, Quintero has scored four goals in those three games that the Colombian has started at center attacking midfield alongside Lod and Molino. “I’m pleased that we managed to get [Kevin] Molino, [Robin] Lod and [Darwin] Quintero on the field, all looking sharp. I think that they are going to be big for us moving forward,” said Heath when asked about what went right on Sunday. With Kevin Molino getting over illness, Robin Lod reaching full fitness and Darwin Quintero back amongst the goals, Heath could rely on these three to create for MNUFC against the Timbers this afternoon.

Purple Patches
Darwin Quintero scored two well-taken goals against RSL on Sunday and the attacking midfielder will now look to begin a run of consistent scoring which will hopefully lead into the playoffs. Since coming to MLS, Quintero has been known more as a streaky scorer, netting goals in bunches rather than providing single goals in successive games. In one of his most emphatic ‘purple patches’ for MNUFC, Quintero began by scoring his first Minnesota United hat trick against Toronto FC in July of 2018 and followed that up with four more goals in his next six games – that’s seven goals in seven games. Not only will Adrian Heath hope that Quintero’s two goal effort can spur a similar scoring streak for the Colombian but his teammates would also love more of the same. “It would be massive [for] him and everyone else,” said defender Ike Opara. “What he can do on the attack can be special for us and I think if he’s going to continue his form, hopefully, I like our chances moving forward.” Look for Quintero to be at the heart of the Minnesota United attack tonight as he looks to heat up ahead of a crucial stretch of games for the Loons.

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