Minnesota United FC at Austin FC Preview
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The Loons started off their Sunday afternoon in Saint Paul in scoring form with forward Adrien Hunou putting MNUFC up 1-0 only eight minutes in. Unfortunately, after a converted penalty kick in the 74th minute, the momentum shifted and Colorado went on to score two more goals in 19 minutes en route to a 3-1 win. Now the seventh-place Loons face a crucial game this Saturday against last-place Austin FC at Q2 Stadium. Despite the growing pains Austin FC have experienced this season, the newest MLS team cannot be overlooked. The Loons will need to come into the game focused and energized from the first whistle. With the end of the regular season in sight, every point becomes increasingly important and in order to maintain a place in the postseason, MNUFC will need to find a way to win this game on the road.
ADRIAN HEATH ON MOVING PAST THE COLORADO RESULT
"Well, we have to. There's no feeling sorry for ourselves. We've got six huge games coming up, it's like six cup finals. You look at, not only our fixture list, but everybody else's, everybody seems to be playing each other right the way through. I said a few weeks ago, it'll go down to the wire. That result probably gave a lot of teams around us a lot hope at the weekend. It was a prefect opportunity. We would have gone five points clear of the next team below the line. We've made it difficult for ourselves but we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and let's go again. It's in our own hands. We're still in the playoff position but we certainly have made it more difficult for ourselves for sure."
WIL TRAPP ON HOW AUSTIN FC HAVE EVOLVED
"They're a different team than we played earlier in the season. They've added a couple key pieces. A new striker as well as a play-making midfielder in [Sebastian] Driussi who is very, very dangerous. As time goes on, teams get more comfortable in what their tactics are and understanding the system and I think you're seeing that from them a little bit more. Always good in possession. Always move the ball well. And they can score now a little bit better."
In their last five games, both Austin FC and Minnesota United have won two. While MNUFC has managed a draw and two losses to go along with the wins, Austin have lost all three of their other games. This leaves both teams in need of wins, but for somewhat different reasons. In their two meetings so far, MNUFC and the newcomers each have a win. The first of these two matchups resulted in a close 1-0 loss at Allianz Field while the second, also in Saint Paul, resulted in a convincing 2-0 win for the Loons. If Minnesota United are to win their first-ever game at Q2 Stadium in the rubber match, they will need to put last week's frustrations in the rearview mirror and focus solely on preparing for Austin. It is a new game, a new opponent and a new opportunity for the Loons to prove that they are a competitive team in the Western Conference. Hopefully, with the return of multiple players from international duty and some time to recuperate, the Loons will be focused and ready to get a necessary result in Austin this Saturday.
STORYLINES PRESENTED BY BMW
THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER: Its origin may be shrouded in the mists of time, but winning your home games and drawing your road games is an MLS calculation that's more postulate than theorem - it's that fundamental. Losing to Colorado at home has put even more of a premium on getting as much out of the upcoming away games as possible with the Loons' remaining six games split evenly between home and road. Austin FC might be tied for the second-worst points-per-game in the league at 0.89, but they've managed five wins at home, including their last two in a row. The good news for MNUFC is that they've also lost seven at Q2 Stadium this year. If Minnesota want to pull all three points out of this matchup, it will help to get back Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall and Robin Lod from international duty, all of whom have been integral components to the Loons' successes this season. Both Metanire and Lod have been top five in goals added this season, according to American Soccer Analysis, and Boxall has captained the side nine times so far. For Minnesota, the calculus has become simpler if more brutal: win anywhere you can, or risk falling back.
FIRST TOUCHES: Franco Fragapane's assist on Hunou's goal was his eighth of the season. He is currently averaging 0.72 assists per 90 minutes, good for second in the league behind New England's Carles Gil (0.76).
PLAYER AVAILABILITY REPORT:
McMaster - Thigh
Agudelo - Ankle
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