Minnesota United FC vs. DC United | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Minnesota United FC vs. D.C. United
2017 MLS Match Preview
TCF Stadium – Minneapolis, Minn.
Saturday, July 29 – 8 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
By some reckonings, "do or die" time has come and gone for both Minnesota United FC and D.C. United. The former, who host Saturday's encounter, sit bottom of the Western Conference on 19 points through 21 games, while the latter are last in the entire league with 18 points through 21 outings. Playoff chances for either are so slim as to be imperceptible, and their recent play – D.C. have lost five straight, while MNUFC are 0-3-2 in their last five – suggests no late-season run is in store
But that doesn't mean they don't exist. D.C. put together a memorable August-through-October last year, and will hope to rekindle some of that magic, while the Loons are looking for their transfer window reinforcements to help salvage a respectable march toward the end of their inaugural MLS season.
Minnesota United FC
The Loons have been hit hard by injuries and international call-ups in recent weeks and months, and it's taken a toll. Following a miserable start to the season, they rebounded beginning in early April, putting together a 5-6-2 record across 13 games. Since then, though, they've piled up three dispiriting losses and a draw, begun leaking goals at a record pace once again, and only scored once – off a goalkeeper error – in their last four games.
Things aren't looking great. Manager Adrian Heath has attempted to adjust by juggling the lineup and formation a bit, but thus far nothing has quite worked and Minnesota have sunk from the fringes of the playoff race in the West to the very bottom of the conference.
All the more dispiriting is that this run of disastrous form has come during a long homestand. MNUFC are currently at the tail end of a stretch during which they play seven of eight at home, but have won just once so far during this part of the schedule. Any chance to make up ground seems to have slipped away.
- Suspended: Brent Kallman (yellow card accumulation)
- International Duty: none
- Injury Report: OUT: M - Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury); M/D - Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury); D - Marc Burch (sports hernia surgery 6/20, out 8-12 weeks); M - Rasmus Schuller (left thigh injury); D - Joe Greenspan (head injury); QUESTIONABLE: D - Kevin Venegas (right thigh injury); M - Sam Cronin (neck injury); M - Kevin Molino (left ankle injury); M - Miguel Ibarra (left ankle injury)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): Bobby Shuttleworth – Justin Davis, Jermaine Taylor, Michael Boxall, Jerome Thiesson – Collen Warner, Ibson – Miguel Ibarra, Kevin Molino, Sam Nicholson – Christian Ramirez
Opta Facts: Minnesota have allowed 45 goals, an average of 2.14 goals per game, the highest in MLS this season ... The Loons have also gone 351 minutes since scoring their last goal, the third-longest goalless drought in MLS this season.
United only barely avoided complete ignominy last weekend by losing 3-1 to the visiting Houston Dynamo. Sure it was Houston's first away win of the season, and it was D.C.'s fifth straight loss in MLS play, but they did manage to avoid becoming the first team in league history to concede four or more goals in three straight regular season games.
The fact that three goals conceded to an under-manned team at home has to be characterized as an improvement should illustrate exactly what the problem's been for D.C. The defense, which was stingy at times last year and mostly held together through the first part of this season, has utterly fallen apart of late, even as the attack has inched closer to "respectable."
Since the beginning of May they're 2-10-1 and have conceded 25 goals across that 13-game stretch. Issues persist at defensive midfield, and the central defense has been a constant problem. Getting goalkeeper Bill Hamid back from the Gold Cup should help – he's single-handedly won them points a few times this year – but fixing this team is not a one-man job.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: M - Rob Vincent (left knee meniscus); QUESTIONABLE: M - Patrick Nyarko (corneal abrasion)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): Bill Hamid – Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, Taylor Kemp – Ian Harkes, Jared Jeffrey – Lloyd Sam, Lucho Acosta, Patrick Nyarko – Deshorn Brown
Notes: D.C.'s five-game losing streak is the longest since losing a club-record seven consecutive matches on March 23-May 11, 2013 ... Defender Bobby Boswell scored his first goal of the season against Houston. He has now scored 19 goals in 364 career league appearances over 13 seasons.
This is the first meeting between the two teams.
- Referee: Robert Sibiga
- Assistant Referees: Kevin Klinger, Daniel Belleau
- Fourth Official: Juan Guzman