Minnesota United FC Drew a Perfect Route to Knockout Play Run in “MLS is Back” Tournament

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Major League Soccer announced the schedule for the “MLS is Back” tournament, Wednesday. Minnesota United FC will square off against rivals; Colorado Rapids, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, in Group D.

The tournament will be held from July 8th to August 11th. The top two teams from each group will move on to the knockout stage. Eric is so excited for European sport-ball to be back that he nearly pissed his pants with joy!

Read more about the “MLS is Back” tournament here.



MINNESOTA UNITED’S SCHEDULE

Although the tournament begins July 8th, the Loons won’t see action until July 12th, when they face off against Kansas City. That gives them a few days to acclimate to the central Florida heat and humidity.


OpponentDate and Time
Sporting Kansas CityJuly 12 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Real Salt LakeJuly 17 – 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Colorado RapidsJuly 22 – 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

As mentioned, if the Loons place first or second in Group D, they automatically advance to the knockout stage. If they place first, they will play the 3rd place team from Group B/C/E/F on July 26th at 10 p.m. (FS1). If they place second, they play the winner of Group C on July 28th at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

There is a scenario where they could place third in Group D, and still advance to the knockout round, depending on the tie-breaker. If that happens, they could play either the winner of Group A (July 25 – 7 p.m.) or Group C (July 27 – 7:30 p.m.).

The remainder of the tournament’s schedule can be found below:



A PERFECT STORM

The schedule aligns well for Minnesota, as they look to advance to the knockout round. The Loons tied Real Salt Lake in points last season, but Salt Lake got a higher seed in the playoffs, because they had one additional win.

But that should not frighten United fans. The two teams drew 1-1, in Utah, and won 3-1 in St. Paul, during the 2019 regular season. As for Colorado and Kansas City, the Loons split the season series with both clubs last year. Even in a one-game situation, I wouldn’t be concerned with any of these teams overmatching The United.



With the eastern and western conferences of Major League Soccer being separated into three groups, the draw appeared to try and maintain regular season rivalries.

Being drawn into Group D is also the best possible outcome, for Minnesota. They avoid both Western Conference powerhouses in Los Angeles (LAFC and the LA Galaxy), and the reigning MLS Cup champion, Seattle Sounders.

MEGADEATH AVOIDED!

OFFSEASON ACQUISITIONS AND EARLY SEASON CHEMISTRY WILL BE KEY

Even after making the playoffs for the first time in 2019, Minnesota’s front office wasn’t satisfied with their first-round exit. A flurry of moves were made in the offseason to bolster the Starting 9 and ensure a better finish in 2020.

With striker Luis Amarilla and goalkeeper Tyler Miller joining the team –replacing Darwin Quintero and Vito Mannone — the Loons didn’t skip a beat, to begin the 2020 season. They started 2-0, with eight goals scored and just three allowed. Moreover, the team’s chemistry appeared to be in midseason form, under fourth-year manager Adrian Heath.



Although COVID-19 and the subsequent hiatus may have chipped away at the chemistry, players have continued to show their commitment to improving. Many Loons players have been participating in voluntary training sessions to stay in match shape.

If Amarilla and Miller — among others — fail in their roles and chemistry takes a dive… this could be a disastrous tournament for Scarves Up Nation. It will be Heath’s job to ensure everyone gets back up to speed quickly.

WHAT TO EXPECT AND PREDICTIONS

The Loons talent and chemistry give the team a chance to compete with anyone, in Group D. I anticipate the team getting out of this first stage, and maybe even winning the whole Group. This would set them up for a possible deep run to the championship… Anything less than a quarter-finals appearance would be a bust.


MatchPrediction
Sporting Kansas CityWin 2-1
Real Salt LakeDraw 2-2
Colorado RapidsWin 3-1

Results like what you see above, should be enough for Minnesota to win the group round. That would, obviously, set them up with the best possible seed in the knockout round.

It is hard to imagine how any of this will actually play out, especially after a four month break. But the Minnesota United could not have had a better draw. Hopefully, they continue to break out and prove to the league they are a Major League Soccer club to reckon with.

In other words, it’s time for the DETHLOON TO RISE!



Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

jkewitsch

Edina native and two-time grad of the University of Florida in Sport Management. Previously worked with the Timberwolves and Minnesota United FC along with the Gators.

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