Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas Preview
MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. FC DALLAS
ALLIANZ FIELD | SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA
Presented by Allianz
7.13.19 | MLS Week 19 | MLS Game No. 20
7:00 p.m. CT (FSN+ / MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)
MIN: 9-7-3; 5-1-3 at home
FCD: 8-7-5; 2-6-1 on the road
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Following an emphatic 6-1 win over New Mexico United in the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night, Minnesota United finds itself with the unenviable task of having to rest and prepare for a tough Western Conference foe in just a few days as FC Dallas comes to call at Allianz Field in a game presented by Allianz. This game will mark the first time the teams meet this MLS season, but they've been ships passing in the night in the conference standings. With just a single loss in its last seven league games, FC Dallas is enjoying a strong run of form that will collide headlong with Minnesota's own streak of six wins across all competitions when the game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North+, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to benefit Keystone Community Services, a nonprofit serving the Midway neighborhood of Saint Paul.
The good news for Minnesota is that a heavily rotated starting lineup - featuring seven changes - did more than just hold the line on the road against the Montreal Impact last Saturday. A key element of the 3-2 comeback win was the play of second-year forward Mason Toye, who's displayed a new level of maturity in recent appearances. He scored his first MLS goal against FC Cincinnati and got an assist on a late Kevin Molino goal, then cued the win-sealing third goal against San Jose Earthquakes with a tackle. Against Montreal, he delivered two technically impressive finished to net the first brace of his professional career.
"We've always been confident of his athletic ability and his willingness [to work]," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "What we needed to see from him was the training ground stuff that you work with him all the time about the pulling off the back shoulder, the movement in the box, actually seeing that in the game. In the last two or three weeks, we are starting to see that in the game. That's the important thing for strikers. It's knowing when and where to run. You can be incredibly athletic but if you don't know where and when to run and when at the right time to do it, then it's difficult but it looks as though the penny is dropping. If it continues to drop with him, then he's got every chance because he wants to be a player so badly."
That fire in the belly has gone a long way to making regular starters of rookies Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper as well, not to mention the drive that's brought Molino back to the form that was so enticing at the start of the 2018 season when he began with a pair of goals and an assist in two games before suffering a season-ending injury. In the last four MLS games, he has three goals and two assists. As the individuals on the team take individual steps up, the depth and talent of the team has solidified, growing heartier and more robust like a fine chicken and wild rice soup. The Loons will need all of the fortification they can get against FC Dallas and in the weeks ahead as they tussle with teams in and around their current fourth-place spot in the Western Conference like Dallas, Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers.
"They are the six point games, right?" said midfielder Ethan Finlay. "If you drop three to them, those are three that you couldn't have and now they are either extending a point lead that they already have on you or they're catching you and they're on your tail. We look at results like Seattle, for example, getting a result in Columbus on the weekend but then you get Houston who dropped some points in Cincinnati so it's going to continue to be up and down especially when you're playing teams in the Eastern Conference. The Quakes game and this Dallas game are obviously extremely important [since they're] a team that's right behind us in the table."
With Portland making a push after a disappointing first half of the season - largely on the road - and no one at the top of the table giving way, it's likely that the Western Conference will remain a knife fight in a phone booth through the rest of the regular season. With teams returning to full strength following various international games including the Gold Cup, the Loons know it will take all the depth they've cultivated to fight their way into the postseason and possibly even home field advantage. The battle begins again this weekend.
"It's going to have to be a really solid performance," said Heath. "This is not going to be a gimme by any stretch of the imagination. I fully expect us to have to play really well to win the game. We try and watch all of the games, as much as we can, [and] they've been in every game that they've played. They are competitive, they have energy all over the field, they've got legs and they've got youngsters who are playing without any fear which is what you expect. It's going to be a difficult game for us but I'm more than confident - always am at home - that if we play well, and we are playing well at this moment in time that we can win this game."
Minnesota United next hosts newly-promoted Aston Villa of the EPL in an international friendly on Wednesday, July 17 at 7:00 p.m., presented by Target. For tickets and more information, go to mnufc.com.
Preview interviews with Head Coach Adrian Heath and midfielder Ethan Finlay.
Head Coach Adrian Heath on having a quick turnaround but now having a deep squad... "The ability of having strength in depth is the fact that we've played in the weekend, on the road. Regardless of the result, there was enough in the performance from individuals to say that I'm confident that we can play any of them guys. Obviously, Mason's come to the fore, he's playing with so much confidence, that gives us a boost. Kevin Molino's performance was outstanding. We are now getting to the stage - Abu's fit as well - I think everybody is fit and healthy which is what we are going to need because we've got a couple of big weeks coming up."
Adrian Heath on if Dallas is as big as a game as San Jose... "It is because [in] The Western Conference, everybody keeps winning. You look at the results at the weekend and everybody looked at Portland, thinking oh, New York City and [their] incredible run and then they [Portland] go there and win. It's really tight, we've got Dallas and then the week after we've got Salt Lake, both teams are around us. Incredibly important and it's not going to be easy but if we're at home, I fancy us against anybody."
Midfielder Ethan Finlay on how big results against close Western Conference teams are... "They are the six point games, right? If you drop three to them, those are three that you couldn't have and now they are either extending a point lead that they already have on you or they're catching you and they're on your tail. We look at results like Seattle for example, getting a result in Columbus on the weekend but then you get Houston who dropped some points in Cincinnati so it's going to continue to be up and down especially when you're playing teams in the Eastern Conference. The Quakes game and obviously, this Dallas game are obviously extremely important as a team that's right behind us in the table. [They're] a very good team, a team that's very capable of coming on the road and getting results and they've proven that. We have to be ready and prepared for the fight. Right now, the mentality of the group is focusing on Wednesday obviously and right after that result, win or lose, we'll have to switch and get ready for Saturday because you can't let whatever the result is on Wednesday - good or bad - hurt our performance come Saturday. At the end of the day, our number one goal here is to be involved in the playoffs and to make some noise and to make a run in that. Open Cup is obviously an extremely important competition and we more than capable guys who [can] play double days, double week games. I think that the game on Saturday is exactly what we walked about the Quakes game on last Wednesday, one of these real must win games. I think that's how they're going to be on from here on out. You look even further ahead, Salt Lake, you look at Portland in the first week of August, we're well aware that this playoff race is already started and we have to approach every game with a lot of focus."
Adrian Heath has now won 30 MLS games as the Head Coach of Minnesota United.
Mason Toye had his first multi-goal game in MLS against Montreal last week. He scored two of the Loons' goals in the 3-2 win over the Impact.
Kevin Molino has three goals and two assists in his last four appearances. He has contributed to 1.71 goals per 90 minutes played in that time.
Six MNUFC players on multi-game point streaks: Molino (3G/2A/4GP), Romain Metanire (1G/2A/3GP), Ethan Finlay (2G/2A/3GP), Toye (3G/2A/3GP), Ike Opara (2G/1A/2GP) and Darwin Quintero (1G/2A/2GP).
MNUFC crossed the 100 point mark in MLS in its win over Montreal last Saturday. It now has 102 total points in league play.
The Loons' last penalty kick save came against FC Dallas on September 23, 2017. Bobby Shuttleworth saved the spot kick from Mauro Diaz en route to a 4-1 MNUFC victory.
The Loons are currently tied with their longest winning streak in MLS. They have won their last three games, two at home and one on the road, by a combined score of 13 goals for and four against.
MNUFC will face newly promoted Premier League club Aston Villa on Wednesday at Allianz Field. Villa is the third Premier League team that the Loons have faced since 2014. The previous teams were Swansea City (2014) and AFC Bournemouth (2016).
Eight of the Loons all-time 11 wins on grass have come in 2019.
MNUFC has yet to win more than five games against Western Conference teams in a single season. It currently has four wins this year.
Minnesota advanced to the Semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 6-1 win against New Mexico United on Wednesday. It ties the 2005 Thunder for the best finish by a Minnesota team in USOC history.
The Loons will host Portland Timbers in the Semifinals on August 7.
Angelo Rodriguez scored his first hat trick as a member of MNUFC on Wednesday. He scored all three goals in the first half for the first-ever hat trick at Allianz Field.
The Loons have now won their last six competitive games, three in league play and three in the Open Cup.
Darwin Quintero scored his 22nd MNUFC goal, making him the club's leading scorer since it joined MLS in 2017.
Quintero leads the Open Cup's Golden Boot race with five goals. Rodriguez is tied for second with four goals to his credit.
Collin Martin, Jacori Hayes, Brandon Servania and Ema Twumasi all played for Wake Forest in college.
Hayes and Martin are both natives of Maryland.
Ghana natives Abu Danladi and Twumasi came up through the Right to Dream Academy before playing NCAA soccer.
Danladi and Reggie Cannon were teammates at UCLA in 2016. Ryan Hollingshead also attended UCLA during his college career.
Ethan Finlay, Miguel Ibarra, Cannon and Matt Hedges have all been capped by the U.S. national team.
M - Abu Danladi (leg)
D - John nelson (abdominal strain)
M - Pablo Aranguiz (leg)
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