Minnesota United FC vs. Colorado Rapids Preview
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Following Saturday's loss to FC Dallas on the road and the end of Minnesota United's 11-game unbeaten streak across competitions, the boys in black and blue return to the welcoming confines of Allianz Field with their eyes set on starting a new streak against the visiting Colorado Rapids. While Colorado had a rocky start to its season, the team's form since Conor Casey has been markedly better, including taking down LAFC and San Jose in addition to a 1-0 result over Minnesota in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. The Loons' first-choice starting XI - many of whom got rest when the squad was rotated against Dallas - will need to give it their all on Wednesday in a game presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North. Fans attending the game should stick around for the game between the Unified teams from Minnesota United and Colorado Rapids, which will take place shortly after the first teams' game.
"I think that I prefer games in Minnesota in February than that kind of heat. You're very tired after the warmup I'd say and then you've still got 90 minutes to get through," said defender Michael Boxall, looking back at the weekend's game. "But I think that we can't make excuses, especially that first half [on Saturday]. We need a better performance from most of the guys out there. We can't go on the road and score three goals and still get nothing out of the game."
As one of the few regular starters who began the game in Dallas - the Loons brought out Carter Manley, Brent Kallman, Lawrence Olum, Collin Martin and Rasmus Schuller for their first starts either in a long time or this season - Boxall was front and center in a wild game that began with an Ethan Finlay goal and ended with back-to-back goals from rookie Brandon Servania to ice it for the home side. To top it all off, a regrettable incident involving rookie forward Mason Toye spitting on Reggie Cannon in stoppage time earned him a red card and at least a one-game suspension.
"He's going to be unavailable for, we don't know how many games, and that's going to be tough for him to swallow," said Head Coach Adrian Heath of the promising young striker. "But that's the consequences of what he's done. We don't condone it. He certainly doesn't.
"[We] conceded poor goals," said Heath of the game itself. "Three of the five were avoidable. I thought Vito [Mannone] could have done better on a couple. Our defending could've been better on a couple. Our play was too passive in the first half. Second half, we got about them a little bit more and had more of a foothold in the game."
Summoning focus at Allianz Field should not be a tall task for a team that's made its home a genuine fortress. In the team's last five league games at home, they've conceded just two goals. Heath knows this is down in no small part to the support they've received from the Wonderwall and all the fans throughout the stadium. Since the start of the season, the collective awareness and investment from the fans has only gone up. As odd as it may be to say, the fans themselves are rounding into form at this point of the season.
"The application of the players and the rapport the players are getting with the crowd has been making it very, very difficult for people to play," said Heath. "Now in your stadium, you speak to the coaches after the game and they've all been incredibly impressed with the atmosphere that we generate within there and we are going to need them. The next two games, we need them for the full 90 minutes. They need to get us over the line and see if we can go pick up six points in these next two games."
As Heath alluded to, the game against Colorado on Wednesday is just the first of two home games this week. In the second, the Loons will take on an Orlando City team they have yet to lose to in MLS. Chalk it up to Orlando being Heath's former employer or midfielder Kevin Molino's former club, but it's clear MNUFC take special pride in bringing it to the Lions. Just don't expect them to look past a Colorado Rapids team that doesn't have to look like a playoff squad to start spoiling the hopes of those teams that do.
"They've picked up some good results," said Heath. "They had a good result on Saturday against San Jose and we know how difficult they are to play against. They've actually taken points off us in a lot of games, home and away but we have played well against them."
"Set pieces is the big threat that they've got," added Boxall. "A few big men, targets and obviously [Kei] Kamara, he can jump out of the building. But I think on the transition, they've improved a bit so I think we need to good in positioning. At home, I like the way Robin [Lod], [Kevin] Molino and Darwin [Quintero] were starting to get going and gelling together with those two games against Portland. I'm excited to see those guys again and I know they're fresh and itching to go and put some goals away."
Minnesota United's next game is on Saturday, August 17 against Orlando City SC, presented by Allina Health. Kickoff at Allianz Field is set for 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North+, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
Preview interviews with Head Coach Adrian Heath and defender Michael Boxall.
Head Coach Adrian Heath on the loss at FC Dallas this weekend... "[We] conceded poor goals. [I] thought three of the five were avoidable. I thought Vito [Mannone] could have done better on a couple [of the goals]. Our defending could've been better on a couple [of the goals]. [I] thought our defending was too passive. I thought our play was too passive in the first half. Second half, we got about them a little bit more and had more of a foothold in the game. When you score three goals away from home, you would think that would be enough to get you something out of the game but you're not going to win too many games when you concede five goals."
Adrian Heath on what he's made of Colorado Rapids' campaign... "Well obviously, since the turnaround, they've picked up some good results. They had a good result on Saturday against San Jose and we know how difficult they are to play against. They've actually taken points off us in a lot of games, home and away but we have played well against them. Everybody knows how important these next two games are for us. The players know, we know, our supporters need to know as well that these next two games could be very defining for us."
Defender Michael Boxall on if double-game weeks are daunting or if you've just got to get after it... "You've just got to get after it. You take what comes. I think it's happened what, two or three times now? It's like, okay, we've got to get through this patch of games and then you get through that patch of games and then alright, get through the next. For me, it's just one game at a time. Surviving 100 degrees in Dallas and now, we love playing at home. We've got our fans behind us again so getting up for these games is so easy. [We're] looking forward to Wednesday to hopefully start another unbeaten streak."
Michael Boxall on what he sees as a major threat from Colorado ... "I think from when we played them earlier this season, set pieces is the big threat that they've got. A few big men, targets and obviously [Kei] Kamara, he can jump out of the building. I think that but I think on the transition, they've improved a bit so I think we need to good in positioning. At home, I like the way Robin [Lod], [Kevin] Molino and Darwin [Quintero] were starting to get going and gelling together with those two games against Portland. I'm excited to see those guys again and I know they're fresh and itching to go and put some goals away."
Minnesota suffered its first loss in the last 11 games across all competitions on Saturday, falling to FC Dallas 5-3 on the road.
The last time the Loons lost was against the Rapids on June 8.
Following the game against Orlando, the Loons will not have a double-game week until September 11.
Ethan Finlay scored a pair of goals in Saturday's loss. He has scored three times in his last two appearances.
Hassani Dotson scored his third goal of the season last week, tying him with Ike Opara and Kevin Molino for the fifth-most on the squad.
Miguel Ibarra got his first MLS point since July 3 against FC Dallas, assisting Finlay's opening goal.
Lawrence Olum made his 100th MLS regular season start last game.
The Loons dropped to third in the Western Conference standings this past week.
The Rapids have won back-to-back games for the third time this season.
Jan Gregus sits fifth in the league with 89 corner kicks.
Mason Toye will be unavailable for this game after receiving a red card last weekend.
Vito Mannone's 11 wins ties him for the fourth most in MLS.
Mannone also has the third-most clean sheets in the league, keeping opponents off the board eight times this year.
Suffering just 251 fouls, the Loons are the third-least fouled team in the league.
The Rapids lead MLS with seven ejections this season.
The Loons have scored three or more goals in eight games, the second-most among MLS squads.
MNUFC is among the most efficient squads in the league with 13.4% of shots ending up in the net.
The Loons will play just three games at home over the next 32 days. This will be the most time spent away from home since the opening month and a half of the season.
Sam Nicholson played for MNUFC during the 2017 and 2018 seasons before being traded to the Rapids.
Mason Toye and Tim Howard are both from New Jersey. Toye was born in South Orange, just 30 miles from Howard's hometown of North Brunswick.
Michael Boxall, Tommy Smith and Deklan Wynne are members of the New Zealand national team.
Nana Boateng graduated from the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, where he and Abu Danladi played until 2011.
Kofi Opare and Collin Martin were both in the D.C. United organization from 2014 though 2016.
Lalas Abubakar played with Ethan Finlay for the first part of the 2017 season on Columbus Crew SC, before Finlay was traded to Minnesota.
Diego Rubio and Ike Opara were teammates on Sporting Kansas City from 2016 though 2018. Lawrence Olum joined the duo for the 2016 season.
Kei Kamara has played with many MNUFC players in his career. He played the 2013 season with Opara and Olum on SKC. He was a teammate of Finlay's on Crew SC from 2015 through 2016, before moving to New England Revolution to join Bobby Shuttleworth for the tail end of 2016.
D - Korne Ford (knee)
D - Deklan Wynne (foot)
GK - Tim Howard (calf)
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