If you’ve been following Adrian Heath’s career as a MLS coach, you know what you’re getting from Minnesota United. They won’t look particularly organized or coherent defensively, and they won’t pass you to death, but they will spread the field in attack and find their best players in space. And when that happens: They’re coming after you.
Even lacking Kevin Molino and the recently dealt Christian Ramirez, this is a scary attack. New striker Angelo Rodriguez, much like Raul Ruidiaz in Seattle, is finally getting his feet under him and allowing Darwin Quintero to become more of a creator than a finisher. But make no mistake: When Darwin Quintero is on the field, Darwin Quintero is the most dangerous player on the field. After making adjustments to shut down Federico Higuain last weekend, the Union will need to be alert to another incredibly skillful player when the Loons come to town.
Shutting up shop is for suckers
Adrian Heath doesn’t really do defense. The players he brought in and played at both Orlando City and Minnesota United speak to his priorities, and when you don’t have a strong defensive structure it tends to show up on the road.
Sure enough, Heath’s team has only one win in their travels all season, and it came in Orlando on their first trip of the year. To help rectify those issues in back, Minnesota acquired Brazilian holding midfielder Fernando Bob. Bob will be returning from suspension when the Loons come to Philly. The Union will try to pull Bob out of the center to open space for Borek Dockal to operate. If this happens, there should be a fair number of good chances for the home side.
Remaking the midfield
Collen Warner picked up two yellow cards against NYCFC last weekend, so he’ll be out against the Union. Minnesota has been using Warner and Rasmus Schuller to protect their big but slow center backs, and how they fill the hole Warner leaves behind will say a lot about how they play to attack Philly. Harrison Heath could step in and try to play as a disciplined holding player or Ibson could be used to try and hold more of the ball and beat the Union at their own game.
Second half madness
Minnesota scores fairly evenly in both the first and second halves, but they tend to allow their defenses to be breached more often as the match wears on. Thirty-three of the 58 goals the Loons have let in have come in the second half, and an astounding 14 have come in the final 15 minutes of the game plus extra time. With Jay Simpson’s solid form recently, the Union should have gamechangers on the bench to turn to if the match remains tight in the closing moments, and Minnesota’s gates will break if pushed upon.
The Union and Loons face off Saturday at 7:30PM ET at Talen Energy Stadium.