MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. CHICAGO FIRE FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
11.04.2020 | MLS Week No. 23 | MLS Game No. 20
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)
CHI: 5–9-7 (0-6-4 on the road)
MIN: 8-5-6 (4-1-2 at home)
After a weekend that saw their game against Sporting Kansas City postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests, Minnesota United prepare to host Chicago Fire FC at Allianz Field on Wednesday. In a season that’s already been turned upside down and in which the Loons have had to deal with injuries to key starters, more absences due to coronavirus will hit even harder. The team’s shared history — although brief — favors MNUFC. Minnesota got their first road win in MLS against the Fire back in 2017 and have overall won twice while losing just once in the all-time series. Former MNUFC captain Francisco Calvo will no doubt be chomping at the bit to get a result against his old team, while the rest of the Fire will want the W for other reasons: Chicago are the only team in MLS yet to claim an away win in 2020.
The Fire were likely hoping for a more normal season for their relaunch as they returned to Soldier Field with a new-look badge and feel, but all of that has taken a backseat in 2020. Instead Chicago have found themselves struggling to find consistency under first-year Head Coach Raphael Wicky. The switch from points to points per game as the arbiter of the standings has bumped Chicago up into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but with just win in October, the Fire will have to make the most of their final two games to hold off an Atlanta United side getting adjusted to a new role as bottom-playoff-seed spoilers.
BRENT KALLMAN ON CHICAGO FIRE FC
“I think they’re a really good team. They’ve had a mixed bag of results but they have a lot guys that are dangerous, very skilled. They can have the ball a lot too. They’re a team that can have long spells of possession so even though we’re at home, if that happens, we can’t get frustrated with that. We gotta stay strong mentally. They’re a dangerous team. We can’t let where they’re at in the standings fool us because they have some guys that are very good and will hurt you if you let your guard down.”
ADRIAN HEATH ON THE LACK OF TRAINING
“I think I mentioned to you after the Houston game, I was really concerned how we were going to cope with the game. We had hardly trained for two weeks building up to the Houston game. We’ve managed to get a couple of days into them now but it’s not ideal for obvious reasons. I think the most important thing is them going out and, not enjoying it, I don’t mean the result doesn’t matter, but I want them to enjoy [being] back playing football. Being back in the stadium, they enjoy playing there, play positive, realize that if we can stay undefeated, we can take some confidence and some momentum into the playoffs. That’s what we’ll speak about tomorrow. Play on the front foot, go and enjoy playing football. We’ve made the playoffs, that little bit of burden, if you like, hanging over, is gone. I would like us to go and express ourselves and maybe give a performance that we can be proud of because I know what this group is capable of doing. And we know it’s not going to be easy. Everything to play for [Chicago]. I said after the Disney tournament, we played them for a half at Disney, I thought they were really well organized, they had a lot of threats. I think it’s going to be a difficult game for us because they have so much riding on this. It’s a huge game for them. So I’m hoping the fact that the game will mean so much to [Chicago] will put our players in the right frame of mind.”MORE
One way or another, Chicago has become quite the home for former Loons. Minnesota’s all-time leader for appearances and minutes at goalkeeper, Bobby Shuttleworth, is the Fire’s current first-choice netminder. Francisco Calvo was traded to the Fire early last season, and MLS SuperDraft pick Wyatt Omsberg joined the team just prior to the start of the 2020 season. On the flip side, Raheem Edwards — who was acquired in exchange for Omsberg — has proved his worth for MNUFC, contributing three assists and energy off the bench.
Emanuel Reynoso provided his fourth assist of the year on Wednesday night. He is now second on the roster behind the six credited to Jan Gregus.
SOUND OF THE LOONS: A VERY COVID SEASON