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PREVIEW | #RSLvMIN

REAL SALT LAKE vs MINNESOTA UNITED
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex | Orlando, Florida
07.17.2020 | MLS Is Back Tournament| Group Stage Game No. 2
9:30 p.m. CT (ESPN, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)

2020 Records:
RSL: 1-0-2
MIN: 3-0-0

Like just about any team, Minnesota United will take an ugly W over a beautiful L any day, and that’s just what the Loons got out of their first Group Stage game of the MLS Is Back Tournament against Sporting KC last Sunday. MNUFC was out possessed 62.3% to 37.7% and held a lead for less than three minutes, but when those minutes are the last three in the game, that’s all that matters. Against Real Salt Lake — who also won its opening game of the tournament against Colorado Rapids — MNUFC will once again be without defender Ike Opara and the statuses of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and forward Luis Amarilla remain up in the air. It will be up to Minnesota United to pull together and dig deep to hold onto their spot as the only remaining undefeated team in MLS in 2020 — although Loons fans and their hearts might wish for them to not have to dig quite so deep this time around.

THE OPPOSITION
When a team is best known for its legendary-but-now-retired goalkeeper (Nick RImando) and its enduring-but-now-38-year-old midfielder (Kyle Beckerman), it can be tempting to overlook them. But Real Salt Lake were not the top draw in Group D for nothing. The scrappy team finished just behind Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC and MLS champ Seattle Sounders last season and under new head coach, Freddy Juarez, sport a platoon of canny players including Albert Rusnak, Damir Kreilach and Justen Glad. Colorado overlooked them in the opening game of the tournament and handed the Claret-and-Cobalt a clean sheet, so the Loons will have to be on their A game to avoid a similar fate.

KEVIN MOLINO ON HIS SON'S CELEBRATIONS AFTER HIS GOAL

“It means a lot to me. It means everything to me. He’s very passionate like me, he loves the game, he enjoys the game, he’s happy we won. Before the game, he was crying. I was happy to see him enjoying himself and that I can inspire him in many different ways, not just him, kids around the world. All of us have kids, players have kids and can motivate their kids and people all around the world while we go through a difficult time in our life and that’s what sports do. Sports unify and bring people together and I’m just happy.”
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ADRIAN HEATH ON THE 10:30 PM ET START

“Just to give the people back home a little bit of insight into what we go through, some days we’re up at six for getting tested. Then you’re kicking off at nine in the morning like some teams have been doing, getting up at five-thirty, having a pre-match meal at six in the morning – all things no player, no coach has ever been through. So it’s a lot about mental strength and that’s what we’ve spoke about to the players. Let’s control the controllables, let’s get on with it, let’s go with a positive attitude and we’ll take what comes.”

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STORYLINE
Prior to the start of the MLS Is Back Tournament, many pundits tabbed Sporting Kansas City — with the addition of Mexican star Alan Pulido — and the Colorado Rapids — in their first full season under Robin Fraser — to get through the Group Stage. And yet, after the first round of games, it’s Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United on top of the group. With SKC facing Colorado on Friday before Minnesota’s game, the Loons have a chance to climb to the top of the group with a win and all but secure their path to the next round.

FIRST TOUCHES
The home team has yet to lose a game in the all-time series between MNUFC and RSL. The Loons have won all three games in Minnesota (two at TCF Bank Stadium, one at Allianz Field), while the Claret-and-Cobalt have taken three points once at Rio Tinto. The teams split the points in the other two games in Utah.

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SOUND OF THE LOONS: WE'RE BACK BABY!

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