It’s official: the 2021 MLS season will kick off on April 17. If soccer hasn’t been top of the mind the past year or so, we understand. To catch you up, we’re taking a look back at the 2020 season to refresh everyone on what happened and set the stage for what’s to come.
MLS is Back Tournament
The Loons began 2020 with strong back-to-back road wins before the season was suspended due to COVID-19, but they picked up right where they left off at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida. With an eye towards resuming the regular season following the tournament, the league awarded teams regular season points during the group stage with a chance to earn a spot in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League awarded to the champion. Although the tournament began with FC Dallas and Nashville SC bowing out due to positive COVID tests, the protocols put in place to create the bubble in Orlando were largely successful, with no further positive tests once the tournament was underway.
MLS teams were split into six groups, Groups A–F. Minnesota United was in Group D with Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids. The Loons won their first game 2-1 against SKC before a scoreless draw against RSL and 2-2 draw against Colorado. Minnesota advanced out of the group stage to face eventual MLS champion Columbus Crew in the knockout stage. After fighting to a 1-1 draw in extra time, MNUFC and the Crew went to penalty kicks with the Loons emerging with a 5-3 win. In the quarterfinals, Minnesota faced the San Jose Earthquakes, handing them in an authoritative 4-1 win. The team’s run ended in the semifinals against Orlando City SC with a 3-1 loss.
2020 Regular Season
Immediately after the MLS is Back Tournament, the MLS regular season picked up again. Minnesota found themselves facing off against Sporting Kansas City for their first game and lost 2-1. Their stumble continued as they dropped their next two to FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo.
But the tide turned after the signing of Emanuel Reynoso from Boca Juniors on September 1, 2020. Reynoso quickly become a key player for the Loons, creating plays and assisting goals. He earned his first Man of the Match on September 23 in a game against Columbus Crew SC and would go on to notch seven assists in the regular season to lead the team. The latter half of the season also saw the emergence of goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair following season-ending surgery for Tyler Miller. The second-year netminder led the team to six clean sheets en route to MNUFC finishing the season 6-5-6, earning the Loons the fourth seed in the playoffs.
2020 MLS Cup Playoffs
On November 22, Round One of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs began, with Minnesota United hosting the Colorado Rapids. The Loons jumped out to the lead after 22 minutes and didn’t look back, with Kevin Molino scoring twice and Robin Lod once for a 3-0 win. The team’s first playoff win in MLS sent them through to the Western Conference Semifinals. MNUFC faced Sporting Kansas City and won the game 3-0, with another two goals from Molino and one from Dibassy, all of which were assisted by Reynoso. Against Seattle Sounders in the Conference Finals, Reynoso broke the MLS record for most assists in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a total of nine, but a tired side ultimately could not hold off the home team as Seattle roared back to win 3-2 with a goal in stoppage time.