Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
BLAINE, Minn. — Minnesota United must beat the low-rung Montreal Impact on Saturday night, May 26, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in order to stay a hair ahead of the modest pace they set as a Major League Soccer expansion franchise last year. The Loons rebounded from an abysmal start in their debut season a year ago to post a 4-7-2 record through 13 games. So far in 2018, they are 4-7-1 with the 13th match coming against a struggling Montreal side that seems ripe to be devoured.
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota United captain Francisco Calvo has been a lightning rod for criticism after having been deemed a primary culprit for goals allowed in recent games. Again on Sunday, May 20, the Loons center back was in the middle of Sporting Kansas City's only goal in a 1-1 draw with Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. But United coach Adrian Heath gave credit to Kansas City's quality on a Johnny Russell in-swinging corner kick that went to the head of KC's 6-foot-3 forward Khiry Shelton. Shelton just edged 5-foot-11 Calvo to put KC ahead 1-0 in the eight minute.
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota United's first tie of 2018 arrived Sunday, May 20, and with it in comeback fashion against Western Conference-leading Kansas City, the result can be considered among the Loons' best this year. United conceded yet another early goal, but Darwin Quintero equalized 12 minutes later and Minnesota's defense staved off an increasingly persistent Sporting KC attack in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw in front of an announced sellout crowd of 23,117 at TCF Bank Stadium.
WOODBURY, Minn. — Eric Miller grew up a wide-eyed, soccer-loving kid in Woodbury, but as an MLS pro, he sometimes felt more like a mercenary. After a collegiate career at Creighton, he was a high draft pick for the Montreal Impact in 2014 and found out the nature of the business when he was traded to the Colorado Rapids two years later. When he was shipped off again May 1 in a deadline-day trade to Minnesota United, the homecoming had him nostalgic for his idealistic days as a first-hand witness to some of the biggest flash points in Minnesota's recent soccer history.
ST. PAUL — Before the field is covered in a luscious bed of Kentucky bluegrass next spring, Taylor Twellman stood on a stage above the gravel base of Allianz Field on Tuesday, May 15. While ESPN's top soccer commentator was in St. Paul to announce the under-construction venue would host CONCACAF Gold Cup matches in June 2019, he dovetailed his opening comments to include his view on Minnesota United a year-plus into their MLS existence.
BLAINE, Minn. — Minnesota United's Abu Danladi participated in Tuesday's training session in Blaine, but the second-year striker's right-ankle injury continues to hinder him. If he misses the Loons' game against first-place Sporting Kansas City at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, May 20, it will be five straight games missed for Minnesota's season-opening starter.
ST. PAUL—Allianz Field's first premier soccer game has been booked. The St. Paul soccer-specific stadium will host a CONCACAF Gold Cup game featuring the U.S. senior men's national team in the summer of 2019, a source told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The biennial tournament in June and July will feature 16 countries from within the FIFA confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean nations. The opponent for the U.S. is not yet known.
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota United's designs on making the MLS Cup playoffs run straight through TCF Bank Stadium. With a 4-6 record, the Loons are a sub-.500 team at this point, but their 12 points are good enough for a spot in the six-team playoffs within a wide-open Western Conference. But 30 percent into the season, there's a stark disparity between the club's play at their temporary home on the University of Minnesota campus and elsewhere. Across MLS this season, road teams have won 25 percent of games, while Minnesota has won only 16 percent.
LOS ANGELES — The drumbeat from within the black-and-gold clad LAFC's supporters group on the north side of Banc of California Stadium was the steadiest rhythm in the first half against Minnesota United late Wednesday. A close runner-up was the threatening nature of LAFC's attack in the south end of the gorgeous stadium built for the new MLS expansion franchise. With two first-half goals, L.A. had enough to down Minnesota 2-0 in front of a capacity crowd of 22,000, with 3,252 fans in The 3252 group creating a hostile environment that the Loons couldn't quiet.
LOS ANGELES — One of three photos included in a tweet from Minnesota United on Monday, May 7, created a stir as the club was traveling to the West Coast for Wednesday's game against Los Angeles Football Club. No, it wasn't fullback Jerome Thiesson wearing aviators while inside the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.