MLS Team Guide: Minnesota United FC
Ahead of the 2021 MLS season, Richard Fleming introduces us to the teams set to face the Colorado Rapids. The club will face Minnesota United three times this year in the regular season, starting with their second home game on May 8.
First season in MLS: 2017
Honors: U.S. Open Cup runner-up (2019)
Stadium: Allianz Field, St. Paul, Minnesota
Head Coach: Adrian Heath (appointed, November 2016)
History with the Rapids
This is the team with most recent history with the Colorado Rapids, having been the scoundrels who dumped Robin Fraser’s side out of the playoffs with a 3-0 win at Allianz Field last November.
Across regular season play, these two teams first met at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in the third game of Minnesota's MLS existence, on March 18, 2017. The Loons had lost both opening games, conceding 11 goals in the process, but they left Colorado with their first point in franchise history after a 2-2 draw. They played the final 20 minutes with 10 men after Justin Davis was dismissed.
The Rapids won three in a row against Minnesota – both meetings in 2018 and the home encounter in 2019 – but are without success against Heath’s men in the last four games, including the postseason loss in St. Paul. Their eight regular season meetings include a 2-2 tie last July inside the bubble of Orlando.
Head-to-head record: 3-3-2 (regular season)
Last meeting: L 2-1, 10/28/20 at Allianz Field
It took Minnesota United until season three in MLS to begin to blossom. They finished third from bottom of the Western Conference in 2017 and 2018, leaking 70 or more goals in both campaigns. Heath was in the hot seat heading into the 2019 season, in which he led the Loons to fourth spot in the standings, only three points behind second. Much of this success was off the back of a 10-1-6 home record, form they were able to replicate in 2020 (5-1-3).
They again finished fourth, which meant a home playoff game against the Rapids. They followed that 3-0 win with a more impressive 3-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City, who had finished top of the Western Conference, before succumbing 3-2 at Seattle in the conference final. They had been 2-0 up at the Sounders, who equalized in the 89th minute before striking the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
All in all, continued progress under Heath, though the loss of Kevin Molino in the offseason has the potential to hurt.
With nine goals and four assists in the regular season, plus four goals in the postseason, the departure of Molino is the headline from the Loons’ offseason. He was out of contract and opted to join MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew rather than renew with Minnesota.
Heath has brought in two free agents, both previously with Inter Miami, in Wil Trapp and Juan Agudelo. Minnesota also signed left-back Jukka Raitala from CF Montreal (previously Montreal Impact).
Key players signed to new contracts include Osvaldo Alonso, Jacori Hayes, and defender Brent Kallman, while midfielder Niko Hansen arrived from Houston Dynamo for $125,000 in General Allocation Money.
Minnesota did acquire a ‘name’ in the offseason when Patrick Weah signed a homegrown deal. A striker, Weah is the cousin of US and Lille forward Tim, and the nephew of ex-Monaco, AC Milan, and Paris St. Germain legend George Weah, the one-time World Player of the Year, and now Liberia’s head of state.
Players To Watch
Jan Gregus: entering his third season in MLS, Slovakian international Gregus has proved himself to be a consistent provider, managing six assists in a truncated 2020 to go with the 12 he boasted in 2019. His absence may be felt by the Loons when – as expected – he departs for the European Championship.
Robin Lod: with seven goals and five assists in his first ‘full’ season, Lod showed himself effective on both sides of the ball. Only Kevin Molino scored more goals, and only Emanuel Reynoso and Gregus more assists.
Emanuel Reynoso: the Argentine was an instant hit on arriving from Boca Juniors. In 13 appearances (nine starts), Reynoso scored just once in the regular season, in the 3-0 win over FC Dallas on Decision Day, but he posted a team-high seven assists, including four in the final three games.
In: Ramon Abila (Boca Juniors, Argentina - loan), Juan Agudelo (free agent), Niko Hansen (Houston Dynamo FC), Nabilai Kibunguchy (MLS Superdraft), Justin McMaster (MLS Superdraft), Callum Montgomery (FC Dallas), Jukka Raitala (CF Montreal), DJ Taylor (North Carolina FC), Wil Trapp (free agent), Patrick Weah (homegrown)
Out: Luis Amarilla (LDU Quito), Sam Gleadle, Kei Kamara, Kevin Molino (Columbus Crew)
Meetings in 2021:
May 8 (home)
July 7 (home)
August 4 (away)
Click HERE for the full Rapids schedule.
Did You Know?
Head coach Adrian Heath’s nickname is ‘Inchy’ after the cartoon character ‘Inch-High, Private Eye’. Heath stands at just 5’6”.
Central defender Michael Boxall is a New Zealand international, who played under former Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson and current assistant coach, Neil Emblen.
Brent Kallman is the brother-in-law of ex-Rapids defender Eric Miller. Miller is married to Kallman’s sister, Kassey.