MINNESOTA UNITED at PORTLAND TIMBERS
Providence Park | Portland, Oregon
03.01.2020 | MLS Week No. 1 | MLS Game No. 1
6:30 p.m. CT (FS1, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)
POR: 0-0-0 (0-0-0 at home)
MIN: 0-0-0 (0-0-0 on the road)
Minnesota United opens its 2020 MLS season in a game against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park — a venue the team grew very familiar with as it wrapped up its preseason with a tournament in the Rose City last week. Last year, the Loons underwent one of the most dramatic defensive turnarounds the league has seen after acquiring MLS veterans Ike Opara and Osvaldo Alonso, plus international acquisition Jan Gregus. Opara won Defender of the Year and MNUFC earned its first playoff berth and first home playoff game in its third season. This past offseason, the club added former LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller between the pipes and bolstered an uneven attack with the addition of Paraguayan forward Luis Amarilla, Minnesota United heads into the season with strongest squad they’ve ever had in MLS after coming close to finishing second in the Western Conference.
The Portland Timbers suffered a first-round exit from the playoffs against Real Salt Lake last year after weathering an extended slate of away games due to construction at Providence Park. They also bowed out of the U.S. Open Cup at the hand of Minnesota United at Allianz Field, but at least some uncertainty about 2020 was resolved when they inked Diego Valeri to a new contract and added two new strikers in Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Felipe Mora. Diego Chara remains a stalwart in the defensive midfield while welcoming his younger brother, Yimmi, to the attack. Much like MNUFC, Portland has added firepower to a team that often relied on suffocating you on defense. Head Coach Gio Savarese’s team never makes it easy at Providence Park, where MNUFC has yet to win a game in MLS.
JAN GREGUS ON THE TEAM'S POTENTIAL
“We obviously have quality players now, still, the squad is strong but to say how strong we are, how best we are, it’s too early. I think the season will show and we just have to prove it every single game and see.”
ADRIAN HEATH ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SQUAD HEALTH
“It’s probably the most important. We know with the workload that the players have to do, it’s always a danger of too much too soon and people breaking down, so for us to come through with a clean bill of health, to put the work in that we’ve done, it speaks volumes for the medical and the attitude of the players. I couldn’t be more pleased with the group, everything we’ve asked of them, their attitude to work is really exemplary so I’m really, really pleased.”MORE
sometimes the grass is greener on the other side...— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) February 26, 2020
Minnesota went 2-0-1 against Portland in two league games and one U.S. Open Cup game in 2019. This included a pair of back-to-back games at Allianz Field on August 4 and August 7 that saw the Loons besting the Timbers 1-0 in league play and 2-1 in the Open Cup to advance to the final. A major thing to watch for heading into the season opener will be Portland’s shape following a disappointing preseason that included a 4-2 loss to MNUFC at home last week. Will Savarese shake up his formation in hopes of sparking his team to a quick start or will he stand pat in the belief that the heightened stakes of the regular season will be enough to edge out a Minnesota squad that looked dangerous for much of the preseason.
Minnesota set MLS club records in 2019 with 15 wins, 53 points and 52 goals scored during the season. The team tied its single-season record for assists with 46.
Minnesota United FC
Portland Timbers FC
- OUT: GK - Jeff Attinella (right shoulder surgery)
- OUT: M - Andres Flores (left knee surgery)
- QUESTIONABLE: D - Bill Tuiloma (right lower leg strain)
- QUESTIONABLE: M - Marvin Loria (left thigh strain)
- QUESTIONABLE: M - Andy Polo (right thigh injury)
- QUESTIONABLE: F - Jaroslaw Niezgoda (right popliteus strain)
SOUND OF THE LOONS