D.C. United might not know exactly what to expect out of Minnesota United FC today, but it feels like a safe bet that they’re expecting goals and chances at both ends. Sometimes MLS teams are simply too worried about conceding goals, and their games become boring due to the focus on reducing risk wherever possible. The Loons are not that kind of team. Minnesota has scored 2+ goals in 6 of their 8 games this year, but they’ve also given up 2+ goals five times.
Despite spending on some major defensive improvements, Minnesota is essentially the team they were last season. For the Black-and-Red, the most likely scenario that ends in 3 points is winning a shootout. Get yourself ready, because today could be wild.
Key player: Luciano Acosta
Like we just said, Minnesota doesn’t do boring. They’ve scored 17 times in 8 games, but they’ve also given up 15 goals. It seems fair to think that this one could end up being about which team can finish with more precision, because it’s highly likely that there will be a heap of chances at both ends.
That’s where Lucho comes in. We know that Wayne Rooney is carrying his weight, and the Loons are dreadful at defending set pieces, so there might be a goal out there for one of the center backs, but this feels like a game that might require another threat to come through. Acosta has had a bit of bad luck, with goal-bound shots deflected, but more than anything he’s just not seeing as many openings to threaten in 2019.
That probably needs to change today, and it very well could. MNUFC is probably game-planning for Acosta, but that 15 goals against figure is a solid argument that their successful plan to mute Zlatan Ibrahimovic was an outlier rather than the norm. The opportunities should be there for him to do real damage today, but it’s on Lucho to seize them.
Location: Allianz Field (St. Paul, MN)
Kickoff time: 1:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3421) - Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum; Leonardo Jara, Chris Durkin, Junior Moreno, Paul Arriola; Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta; Quincy Amarikwa
Bench: Chris Seitz, Jalen Robinson, Akeem Ward, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Lucas Rodriguez
You are counting that bench correctly. We’re hearing that United took Chris McCann along in hopes that his hamstring would possibly be recovered enough to dress, but after some tests upon arrival in Minnesota, they’ve opted not to risk him. With injuries still a factor and Griffin Yow away with the US u17s, we’re down to 17 in the squad.
The lineup itself is a bit of a guess. Ben Olsen is probably going to rotate somewhere, given that the win in Columbus was the important game of this two-game Midwest swing, but guessing where is probably a fool’s errand. It could be Jara making way for Segura, or Ward getting a start as a wingback on either side, or Rodriguez starting over Acosta, or Robinson over Brillant...or all of the above.
Projected Minnesota starting 11: (4231) - Vito Mannone; Romain Métanire, Ike Opara, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo; Osvaldo Alonso, Jan Gregus; Ethan Finlay, Darwin Quintero, Romario Ibarra; Angelo Rodriguez
Some suspension-enforced midweek rotation means Adrian Heath can freshen up his team with Calvo and Gregus, which isn’t great news. The only real question marks here are on the left wing (where it could be Miguel Ibarra if Heath wants a pure winger, or Rasmus Schüller as a more simple possession option whose job is to fill in when Quintero roams) and up top, where Rodriguez could be rested for Abu Danladi or Romario Ibarra.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Available TV: Fox Sports 1
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: We’ve got Filibuster ready to go, and will have Opposition 11 and our predictions coming up this morning.
What are you drinking?: I might just be having some Stok iced coffee? I spent a lot of yesterday out in the sun and wind, so I’m probably going to sleep in.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos winning a goal-fest!