It's a reunion of sorts for Head Coach Adrian Heath and Minnesota United as the gaffer returns to face his former club Orlando City SC Thursday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, a stadium where Heath led a USL Orlando team featuring MNUFC attacking midfielder Kevin Molino to league victory. Fresh off a convincing three-goal victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, the Loons match up against an Orlando side that earned a place in the Semifinals by dramatically beating tournament and MLS favorite LAFC in penalty kicks after João Moutinho scored against his former club at the death. The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, August 6 and will be broadcast on ESPN2 and SKOR North locally.
Semifinal Matchup Details
Opponent: Orlando City SC (2-1-2)
Date: Thursday, August 6
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Broadcast: ESPN2 & SKOR North
This Orlando City SC team is arguably the strongest side constructed in the club's short MLS history, with several marquee wins illustrating their improvement since the 2019 season. Lead by former FC Dallas Manager Oscar Pareja, Orlando has already defeated New York City FC (1-4-0), LAFC (2-0-3) and drawn even with the Philadelphia Union (2-1-2) in the MLS Is Back Tournament. Pareja has his team believing they can win this tournament and fully buying into his system, as Orlando is attacking as a unit and more importantly defending as a unit. The Lions have conceded just five regular season goals in five regular season games in 2020, a steep improvement after averaging more than two goals conceded per game in 2018 and a little more than 1.5 goals conceded per game in 2019.
Orlando City matches up against a Minnesota United team that scores goals in bunches. The attacking unit lead by Luis Amarilla, Robin Lod, Ethan Finlay, Jan Gregus and Kevin Molino is third in regular season goals scored in 2020, with 12 goals tallied in five games — plus another five in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals. After beginning the tournament relatively slowly and averaging just over one goal scored per game, the Loons recorded a confidence boosting 4-1 win over the pundit favorite San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-2) in the Quarterfinals to book their way to the Semifinals. While MNUFC hasn't controlled possession in most games, the Loons attack quickly out of the back and are especially deadly from set pieces, with Jan Gregus (four assists) serving scrumptious crosses into the box to the deft finishing talent of the MNUFC front line.
Minnesota United has not recorded a loss against Orlando City SC, with two wins and one draw against the Florida side. In their only matchup of the 2019 season, the Loons drew even with the Lions 1-1 at Allianz Field with Abu Danladi scoring in the 92nd minute to equalize after Nani scored from the spot for Orlando City. Both clubs will enter the game with the mindset of an underdog looking to book a place in the final – everything to play for, nothing to lose.