Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo US Open Cup Preview
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Following its confident handling of Sporting Kansas City at home in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, June 12, Minnesota United heads to BBVA Stadium on Tuesday, June 18 to face a familiar foe in the Houston Dynamo in the Round of 16. The Loons were knocked out of the Round of 16 by Houston last year, but they also handed the Dynamo a 1-0 loss less than a month ago. Both teams will have to cope with absences due to international call-ups and the Gold Cup, although MNUFC will have midfielder Jan Gregus back.
The game kicks off at 6:00 p.m. CT and can be streamed on ESPN+, or you can follow along with timely game updates on Twitter by following @MNUFCMatch.
Minnesota's 4-1 win over visiting SKC was an offensive explosion the team badly needed. Coming on the heels of a string of one goal losses and nine games without a goal for Designated Player Darwin Quintero, the matchup featured two goals and an assist for the Colombian midfielder and a goal and two assists for his countryman, Angelo Rodriguez. Midfielder Ethan Finlay also struck the game-winner, getting back on the scoresheet after a number of games where his chances have gone begging.
"We've had trouble finding the back of the net lately and a lot of those guys were able to get on the scoreboard," said defender Brent Kallman. "Even without the goals, they were creating dangerous opportunities and we haven't been creating the greatest chances in previous weeks. That creation, getting in good spots, making and creating dangerous plays is going to go a long way. I would say that's even more important than the goals part."
"I think we've probably not been rewarded as our play would have earned in the past few games," added Assistant Coach Mark Watson. "I think a lot of guys needed goals just to get going again and we achieved that as well. We scored four, could have had a couple extra so I thought from that side it was a really good game with us."
Despite their success against the Dynamo on their recent outing to Allianz Field, the Loons' challenge will be redoubled in Houston. In league play, the Dynamo are undefeated at home and have only allowed 14 goals overall - third behind Atlanta United and LAFC. Minnesota is 0-1-2 in league play at BBVA Stadium in its MLS history, not including last year's Open Cup loss. Teams not only have to break down the Dynamo's low block defending, but must watch out for its speedy attackers getting out in space to strike on the counterattack. And then there's the 12th man.
"The heat and humidity," said Watson. "We're at that time of the year where it's going to be really hot so we have to manage that. They're going to be short some players, know we know of a few already, as we are [as well]. We'll have to plan for that. It's a tough place to play. They won the Open Cup last year and I think I'm accurate in saying that they had all home games. They're known to be a team that's very good at home, comfortable with the heat and humidity more than the opposition."
"We've gone there many times, we've gotten a draw there, we've had a couple pretty good performances where we just couldn't score," said Kallman. "We know what's coming, everyone's got to make sure they are drinking plenty of water all week."
While the MLS season is a marathon, a half-year slugging match where early favorites find themselves done in by injuries while slow starts are quickly forgotten with late-season pushes to the playoffs, the U.S. Open Cup is a sprint. Every game is win or go home, which brings a bit of a different flavor to the games, especially as the early rounds give way to the quarter- and semifinals.
"The win or go home thing is cool," said Kallman. "It's something that, if you're an American, you grew up playing, you're used to doing it all the time, playing tournaments growing up. If you played in college, you played in a tournament. It has a different feel. It's hard to describe but it feels like there is a little bit more intensity maybe in the game because there's more on the line. You win or you're done."
If Minnesota United can get a result against Houston, it will advance to the quarterfinals in mid-July. Either way, the team will return to MLS action on Saturday, June 29 in a home game against expansion side FC Cincinnati at 3:00 p.m. CT. Pregame coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
Preview interviews with Assistant Coach Mark Watson and defender Brent Kallman.
Assistant Coach Mark Watson on an emphatic win against Sporting Kansas City after a disappointing run of results... "I think it was good. I think the win itself, to go to the next round was huge. I think the performance was excellent. We needed some goals. I think we've probably not been rewarded as our play would have earned in the past few games. I think a lot of guys needed goals just to get going again and we achieved that as well. We scored four, could have had a couple extra so I thought from that side it was a really good game with us."
Mark Watson on what makes Houston a tough place to play... "The heat and humidity. We're at that time of the year where it's going to be really hot so we have to manage that. They're a good team at home. They're going to be short some players, know we know of a few already, as we are [as well]. We'll have to plan for that. It's a tough place to play. They won the Open Cup last year and I think I'm accurate in saying that they had all home games. They're known to be a team that's very good at home, comfortable with the heat and humidity more than the opposition and it's going to be a tough game so we are going to have to be at our best."
Defender Brent Kallman on an offensive explosion and getting a 3-goal win after a couple tough losses... "Yeah, it was good. We've had trouble finding the back of the net lately and a lot of those guys were able to get on the scoreboard. Even without the goals, they were creating dangerous opportunities and that's something, we haven't been creating the greatest chances in previous weeks. That creation, getting in good spots, making and creating dangerous plays is going to go a long way. I would say that's even more important than the goals part. Making sure we are creating and getting in dangerous spots."
Brent Kallman on how the win or go home vibe in the Open Cup differs from MLS... "I don't think it should change much as far as the process and what you do but it might make the game a bit different in terms of like substitutions and stuff. If there's a possibility you have an extra 30 minutes, they have to think a little different in how they use their subs and you have to start thinking about penalties as well. That's kind of fun because you don't get that very often. The win or go home thing is cool, it's something that if you're an American you grew up playing, you're used to doing it all the time, playing tournaments growing up. If you played in college, you played in a tournament, it does, it has a different feel. It's hard to describe but it feels like there is a little bit more intensity maybe in the game because there's more on the line. You win or you're done."
Chris Duvall was Minnesota's first selection in the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft. He was traded to Montreal following the conclusion of the draft.
Joe Willis and Collin Martin were both in the D.C. United organization in 2013 and 2014. Both were loaned to the Richmond Kickers during the 2014 season.
Duvall and Martin were teammates at Wake Forest in 2012.
Tyler Deric was coached by Adrian Heath while on loan with the Austin Aztex in 2009.
DaMarcus Beasley and MNUFC Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee were teammates on the Chicago Fire from 2001 to 2002.
Darwin Ceren and Kevin Molino were teammates on Orlando City SC from 2014 through 2016.
Minnesota advanced to the Round of 16 by defeating Sporting Kansas City 4-1 at Allianz Field. It was the first time MNUFC defeated SKC in the Open Cup.
The result was the Loons' first regulation victory in the competition since 2016, a 2-0 win over Saint Louis FC.
The four goals against SKC tied the Loons' goal total from the past four Open Cups combined.
Prior to last game, the Loons had not scored in the Open Cup since 2016.
Houston eliminated Minnesota in the Round of 16 in the 2019 tournament.
The Dynamo are the reigning Open Cup champions. They defeated Philadelphia Union 3-0 in the 2018 final.
Darwin Quintero earned his first points in nine games, scoring two goals and providing one assist against Sporting Kansas City.
This was the first game MNUFC scored more than two goals since April 19 against Toronto FC.
Angelo Rodriguez also had a multi-point game against SKC, netting one goal and assisting both of Quintero's.
Rodriguez's goal in the second minute was the fastest goal ever for MNUFC since joining MLS.
Ethan Finlay scored his first goal since May 18 during the Fourth Round. His goal was the eventual game-winner for MNUFC.
MNUFC is 6-7-2 in Open Cup play since 2010.
The Loons beat the Dynamo in their first league meeting of the year on May 25. Romain Metanire scored the lone goal to claim a second consecutive win for MNUFC.
As the Loons travel to BBVA Stadium, Allianz Field will host a pair of Gold Cup games on June 18. Kevin Molino's Trinidad and Tobago face Panama, followed by USA vs Guyana.
M - Osvaldo Alonso (quad)
F - Abu Danladi (leg)
M - Eric Bird (ankle)
D - Erik McCue (concussion)
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