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Minnesota United FC, only team to beat Crew SC this season, comes to Columbus Wednesday night

Presented by:   Allina Health

MLS Week 13: Minnesota United at Columbus Crew | #CLBvMIN
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. CT
Location: MAPFRE Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports North+ and SKOR North (coverage begins at 6:00 p.m.)

 

Game Central

Despite the disappointment that inevitably comes with giving up a two-goal lead, Saturday night’s 2-2 draw for a point in Houston was likely the justified result. Each team put up an even 1.98 xG according to MLS’ Ben Baer, meaning that the quality of shots they got added up to just about two goals apiece. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair put in another strong shift in his fourth start, including the first penalty save of his young career. While the team awaits word on the injury statuses of defender Bakaye Dibassy and midfielder Kevin Molino — both of whom had to come off against Houston — they’ll also be welcoming forward Kei Kamara to the fold. Needing another striker, MNUFC went out and got the fifth all-time leading goalscorer in MLS, giving the Loons yet another big body to target on crosses and set pieces. With the season more or less at its halfway point, MNUFC sit in fourth place in the lonesome and crowded West, three points back from top of the table Seattle and three points up from being on the outside looking in. With the schedule in Phase 3 still up in the air, there’s no time like the present for MNUFC to seize the opportunity to upend the leaders in the Supporters Shield race and snatch another victory from Columbus Crew SC as they did in the Round of 16 in the MLS Is Back Tournament.

Preview | #CLBvMIN

2020 Records:
CLB: 8-1-3 (6–0-0 at home)
MIN: 5-4-3 (3-3-3 on the road)

THE OPPOSITION
Columbus Crew SC have been the class of MLS for much of the season and sit currently in the lead for the Supporters Shield, boasting a staggering +16 goal differential and having conceded just four goals all season. Much of the credit for that steadiness goes to their double pivot and the confident ball handling and tempo of midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Artur. The Crew haven’t lost a step despite Nagbe’s absence the last few games, and they’ve also been without high-priced offseason acquisition Lucas Zelarayan for a few weeks as well. It simply goes to the show that the star of the team may very well be Head Coach Caleb Porter’s system, which all the players have bought into. Add in a career year for Gyasi Zardes that has the forward second in scoring with nine goals just behind Diego Rossi’s 10, and you have a recipe for a Columbus side that are feeling their oats and confident in every game they go into, especially at MAPFRE Stadium where they are 6-0-0.

STORYLINE
This will be the first Eastern Conference team the Loons will face in a regular season turned absolutely upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s par for the course to face fewer teams from the other conference in a season, it’s also usually customary to face a variety of foes from one’s own conference. Instead, MNUFC have squared off against Sporting KC three times, Houston twice in Texas, and will see Real Salt Lake for the third time to close out Phase 2 later this week, all this while not yet facing the Galaxy, Sounders or LAFC this season. The result league-wide of this kind of imbalance is a supremely volatile season in terms of results and assessing teams, even in a league known for its volatility. The upshot by the end of the year will be that any team with a postseason berth should feel it’s just about anybody’s game in the playoffs this year. A team with Minnesota United’s depth should be well-positioned, especially if they can get some of their regular starters back for a stretch run.

 

GAME PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF MINNESOTA UNITED FC COMMUNICATIONS

 

 

 

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