MINNESOTA UNITED vs. REAL SALT LAKE
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
09.26.2020 | MLS Week No. 8 | MLS Game No. 9
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)
RSL: 2-1-5 (1-0-2 on the road)
MIN: 3-3-2 (0-1-0 at home)
In its last two games against FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo, Minnesota United has struggled to get in the driver’s seat and stay there, shipping six goals while only managing one of its own. Whether you chalk it up to travel, heat, a hangover from Orlando, the general *waves hands* of 2020, or just the team not connecting quite right, everyone from Head Coach Adrian Heath on down to the bottom of the roster know they have to find a way to get back to the form that saw them go undefeated in 2020 through the semifinals of the MLS Is Back Tournament. The Loons face yet another familiar foe this weekend as they square up against Real Salt Lake, a team they fought to a scoreless draw in the Group Stage. In 20 minutes off the bench against Houston, new addition Emanuel Reynoso looked more than capable, and Heath and co. will be banking on him shaking off five months of rust sooner rather than later. Defender Bakaye Dibassy should also be available for selection soon, helping to shore up a backline still lacking Ike Opara. This will be just the team’s second home game of 2020, and Minnesota will surely be hoping that there’s nothing better than a little home cooking to snap a four-game losing streak.
workin’ for the weekend. pic.twitter.com/bjSqrFObGW— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) September 4, 2020
Despite lacking a headline-grabbing attack, Real Salt Lake has certainly not wanted for goals since their 2-5 loss to San Jose ended their run in Orlando. In their last three games, the Claret-and-Cobalt have scored a whopping 10 goals — but they’ve also conceded seven, leading to just one win and two draws. An 85th minute goal by Pablo Ruiz drew them level and salvaged a comeback result against Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, once again showing that RSL has a knack for hanging around and staying dangerous late in games. Having never held a lead in their last four games, the Loons will no doubt be looking to pounce early and get control in order to keep the visitors from gaining a foothold and choking the life out of the game.
ETHAN FINLAY ON EMANUEL REYNOSO
“He’s a dynamic player. A lefty. Someone who’s going to give us a different look. He’s got pace, good dribbling. I haven’t seen quite his free kicks, but I think on set pieces he’s going to give us another dynamic as well. We’re excited he’s a part of this group and he’s going to join us at a time when we need a little bit on an injection of some life into us right now and I hope he can bring that for us.”
ADRIAN HEATH ON REAL SALT LAKE
"They’ve got good players. I’m a big lover of [Albert] Rusnak. He’s a good player. They’ve got wide guys who can run. Corey Baird has got pace. [Damir] Kreilach can get wide and send balls into the box. So, they’ve got good attacking pieces. It’s strange, because I know that the dynamics in the dressing room, sometimes, what’s gone on, over the last few weeks, what’s gone on, can actually galvanize a group and bring them together. And, certainly, they didn’t give in the other night. They kept going. And, you saw the response from the group, not only from the people on the field. They’ve got a good thing going at this moment, so, it’ll be a tough game for us on Sunday."
Real Salt Lake sits in a mid-table traffic jam alongside Minnesota, LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers in the Western Conference. All those teams have 11 points through eight games while Dallas and Houston sit just below them at 10 points and LAFC just above with 12 points. With teams strictly on an intra-conference schedule, expect those standings to get shaken up again and again as familiar foes continue to clash over and over. A win by any team in that glut of squads could vault them back towards the top of the table, and with increasing odds of Phase II looking more or less like Phase I with teams playing other teams close to them, the consequences of every game going forward will bear increasing weight for postseason hopes.
Greg Ranjitsingh has faced 18 shots on goal in his last two games, one behind Tyler Miller’s season total of 19.
SOUND OF THE LOONS: REYNOSO WATCH IS OVER