As the weekend draws near, FC Dallas is getting ready to host Minnesota United for the only time in 2018. The two sides met earlier this season up in Minnesota, where FC Dallas was able to come out on top.
To help get set for the game we have brought in Jacob Schneider from E Pluibus Loonum to help preview Saturday’s game.
BDS: Minnesota has struggled away from home this season with only one win and one draw, what do you expect out of them on Saturday? What do they need to do to pick up the rare points away from home?
EPL: This Saturday, unfortunately, could be a make-or-break game for Minnesota and their playoff hopes. There are a lot of reasons going into me saying that, but I will try and make it brief. Real Salt Lake just dropped points last Wednesday night, while the Galaxy did so too at home this past weekend. Starting last weekend against the Galaxy, we began a five-game road trip away from Minnesota. We earned a point in Los Angeles, but a point is not going to close the gap between us and that last playoff spot. Three points against Dallas, who have lost two of their last three, is a necessity even though it will not come easy. Consistency is key to earn three points this weekend, and the defense will have to step up due to Francisco Calvo’s red card last weekend. Michael Boxall and Brent Kallman will have their hands full with a pressing Dallas attack, but if we can break and counter with both Ibarras, Gomez and Quintero, we should be able to slot a few past Dallas and hopefully come out with three points.
BDS: Defensively Minnesota has given up 26 goals since the start of June. What has caused this group to be so leaky this summer? Have there been any bright spots within this group?
EPL: Defense has been an aching problem for Minnesota since their debut in 2017, but we do our best to forget last year… So far in 2018, our defense has improved massively from 2017, but it still needs so much work. Michael Boxall and Brent Kallman have both proved that they deserve to be starting CB’s in this league, but they can only do so much. Francisco Calvo has had a, well, terrible 2018 season. Debatably our best defender from 2017, has been our weak link in the back line. Adrian Heath switched formations from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2 at the start of summer, and that has improved our defense, but we still don’t have two starting quality wingbacks. Alexi Gomez, our Peruvian winger, has disappointed this whole season while being on loan from Internacional, while starting fullback Jerome Theisson has been injured for the past twelve matches. We slotted in Eric Miller at wingback while also attempting to experiment with Tyrone Mears, but both do not naturally fit there. Miguel Ibarra has been a revelation for us this year, and his willingness to play WB has been the defensive highlight of our 2018 season. On the concept of moving forward, once Theisson is healthy, we *should* see improvement, but there are no promises on that.
BDS: Darwin Quintero has drastically changed how the offense has been for this group, what have you seen out of him that has worked so well in Minnesota since his arrival? How has he improved teammates around him too?
EPL: Quintero may be small, but man oh man is he quick. He has lit up MLS like the moon in the night sky; he has been our best player in 2018, undoubtedly. He does not have the best English-speaking skills, but he has made a connection with nearly every single player on the roster. We now have a front three/four of Spanish descent in both Miguel and Romario Ibarra, Quintero and Rodriguez- and that makes it easier to communicate on the field for him. The squad has adapted to Quintero’s playing style and he has influenced the concept of the counter-attack for the Loons while also being the guy up top who creates space and drags defenders away from others. Considering we only paid Club America 250,000 for him, he is a bargain in the eyes of the league and Minnesota. We are enamored with our playmaker and we are extremely happy with the production he not only brings to the team, but the community as well.
This is my projected lineup for this weekend, and I have Maximiano slotting in for Collen Warner who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation while I also have Eric Miller sliding in for Calvo and Romario in at Wingback. Adrian Heath could consider using the 4-2-3-1 this weekend due to injuries and suspensions, but I highly doubt he breaks the chemistry that the squad has in the 3-5-2.