Two teams below the Western Conference playoff line square off on Wednesday night when Minnesota United host the last-place Colorado Rapids in St. Paul, Minn.
The Loons (8-8-8, 32 points) enter the contest in 10th place but have a match in hand against ninth-place Austin FC (9-11-5, 32 points), which owns the wins tiebreaker.
Minnesota United won the first meeting with the Rapids, 2-1, on March 18 in Commerce City, Colo., on a late header by defender Miguel Tapias. The Loons begin a stretch that sees them play five of their next seven matches at home. However, that might not be a good thing.
Minnesota has won just two of its 11 home matches (2-2-7) this season, the second-fewest number of home wins in MLS behind only Colorado (1-4-7).
Minnesota United, who earned a 1-1 draw with the visiting Seattle Sounders on Sunday, could also be without their two top goal-scoring threats in leading scorer Bongokuhle Hlongwane (six goals, three assists) and midfielder Emanuel Reynoso (four goals).
Hlongwane suffered a knee injury on a hard challenge by James Sands in the first half of the team’s 2-0 victory at New York City FC on Aug. 20 and missed the match with the Sounders.
“Will we rush him back? Probably not,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said.
Reynoso, a 2022 All-Star, has been slowed by a sore ankle but played against Seattle.
“Rey’s ankle has been swollen for a couple weeks,” Heath said. “It’s not 100 percent.”
Colorado (3-11-10, 19 points) is 13 points out of a playoff spot with 10 matches and a possible 30 points still left. However, the Rapids, who lost 4-0 against Los Angeles FC last Wednesday and haven’t won a match since July 8 (2-1 over FC Dallas), are still talking about battling for a playoff spot.
“I think at this point in the season, every game has to be three points,” Colorado defender Andrew Gutman said. “We can’t go into a game thinking we want to tie or get out of there with a result. For me it’s three points or nothing because we only have a certain amount of games left to get into the playoffs. So we’ve got to make them count.”
–Field Level Media