ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United didn’t get a chance to pop champagne to celebrate clinching its second consecutive MLS Cup Playoff berth on Thursday, Oct. 29.
Instead, MLS just made the announcement it was switching its criteria to make the playoffs from total points to points per game, given the disparity of games clubs have played due to cancelations from COVID-19 this season.
The Loons could use the ice more than the champagne right now. A lot of players need to rehab injures before the playoffs. In its 2-1 win over Colorado on Wednesday, Minnesota had six new additions to the injured/absent list.
Captain defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso exited in the first half with a hamstring injury, and coach Adrian Heath speculated that Alonso might not be ready until the playoffs, which will begin in mid-November.
Also injured in the game were attacking mid Emanuel Reynoso (ankle), midfielder Jacori Hayes (groin) and striker Aaron Schoenfeld (calf). Michael Boxall was shook up but stayed in the game.
With Alonso and Hayes joining Hassani Dotson, previously out with an ankle injury, United has a void in the middle of the park, with only Jan Gregus healthy.
On top of this is a new Loons player with COVID-19. While the club hasn’t shared the identity of the positive case, Chase Gasper was the only player without another reason to be absent Wednesday.
So, the Loons have to take a “roll call” as Heath put it late Wednesday night, meaning they have to figure out who might be available to play Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Minnesota hopes to hold onto its current spot at fourth place and host a playoff game. Fifth and they’re on the road.
United had its postponed Oct. 11 game at FC Dallas officially canceled on Thursday. United will play 22 of its scheduled 23 games this season.
Minnesota has three regular-season games remaining before the playoffs begin. Following K.C., they host Chicago on Nov. 4 and Dallas on Nov. 8.