Though the Gold Cup recess may have come at an opportune time for Minnesota United, they will be without their lone MLS All-Star representative Saturday when they host FC Cincinnati.
The Loons (6-3-7) went into the break on a three-game losing streak but enter this contest with momentum on their side after a pair of U.S. Open Cup victories. Minnesota rolled past Sporting KC 4-1 at home on June 12 and then dumped defending champion Houston out of the tournament with a 3-2 road victory six days later.
Darwin Quintero scored a second-half brace and substitute Mason Toye netted the match-winner on 89 minutes as Minnesota scored all three of its goals in the 66th minute and later.
“Nothing beats winning,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath told the club’s official website. “The fact that Darwin got another couple goals, the fact that their (Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero) little combination looked very, very good. I can work as much as I want on the training facility but playing in games, winning games, that does wonders for players’ confidence and for the team’s confidence.”
The Loons have been a stubborn out in their first season at Allianz Field, taking points from all but one of their seven home contests (3-3-1) in league play. As a team in just its third season in the MLS, Minnesota is well aware the expansion Royals are looking for any way they can steal at least one point – which would put a crimp in the Loons’ playoff push.
“I look back on 2017 and our inaugural year and I think of us at the bottom of the table,” Ethan Finlay said. “We were going into places and getting results, going to places like Chicago and getting results. (An upset) can happen when you face a team that is down and that has almost nothing to lose.”
Minnesota will be without All-Star back Roman Metanire, who is representing Madagascar at the African Cup of Nations. Metanire is on the MLS side that will face Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the All-Star game in Orlando at the end of July.
FC Cincinnati’s U.S. Open Cup adventure ended with a 1-0 loss to Saint Louis FC in the fifth round on June 19, and its league losing streak reached five matches with a 2-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy last Saturday. FCC (3-2-12) allowed both goals in the first quarter-hour and have now gone 13 matches without a clean sheet.
“For us, we’re going to try and take the positive things that we did from LA and try to fix the mistakes we made and hopefully get a result,” center back Nick Hagglund said. “I feel like starting from the back in our buildup play, getting to create chances and be in crossing positions, that was good. Hopefully we can continue that and be more clinical in the final third.”
The Royals are entering this match severely depleted due to international commitments. Allan Cruz, Darren Mattocks, Alvan Powell, and Kendall Watson are still in the Gold Cup, and Leo Bartone must sit out this match due to a yellow-card accumulation. Fernando Adi is also questionable with a hamstring injury, which means there is a chance FC Cincinnati could dress fewer than 18 players for a second straight match.
Minnesota United beat FC Cincinnati on penalties in the fourth round of last year’s U.S. Open Cup after playing to a scoreless draw.
(Abu Danladi photo courtesy Minnesota United FC official Twitter account)