Following a 2-0 victory against FC Cincinnati Saturday evening at Allianz Field, Minnesota United FC has a short turnaround before they find themselves going head-to-head against Nashville SC Tuesday night.
The Loons shutout FC Cincinnati 2-0 at home in what was their first of nine matches that will be played over the course of 36 days throughout October and November. The series of matches has been deemed Pt. 2 of Phase 2 of the league restart, which was initiated in the middle of August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They now have three days of rest, recuperation and preparation before they take on Nashville SC.
The two clubs have never met before, however, Nashville finds themselves in a fairly similar situation as the Loons were back in 2017. Nashville is an expansion side, like the Loons were back in 2017, but they find themselves in a more formidable spot than the Loons did in their debut season back in 2017. They’re currently in the playoffs, hanging on by a finger.
Nashville is currently unbeaten over their last three matches, earning draws against the Dynamo and the Revolution and claiming three points against D.C. United. The Loons just overcame a skid that saw them winless in four straight, earning two draws and two losses.
It’s a tale of two sides that have found themselves bordering the playoff line in their respective division, with the Loons falling as far as 8th in the West and Nashville climbing as high as 9th in the East in recent weeks. Currently, the Loons sit 4th in the West and Nashville is 10th in the East. Eight teams from the West and 10 teams from the West will find themselves competing in the postseason come November.
Tuesday presents a crucial test for the Loons, who have yet to find a win on the road since March. The Loons have five home matches over the course of their final nine regular-season matches. If they still have intentions of chasing the 2020 Supporter’s Shield, Nashville is a team you cannot afford to drop points against.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United FC:
- Kevin Molino
- Molino returned from injury Saturday night to score the game winner off the bench for the Loons. He’s the Loons leading scorer in 2020 with 7 goals. He’s a game-changing player for the Loons when healthy. Expect to see him starting Tuesday evening.
- Ozzie Alonso
- Alonso has made his way off the injury list for the first time since Sept. 7, and now the Loons captain has a chance to return to the pitch Tuesday evening. His influential defensive capability has been sorely missed by Minnesota — they’ll be incredibly happy to have him back.
- Robin Lod
- Lod has been inconsistent during his entire tenure with Minnesota, but he’s finally starting to turn some heads. He’s the second leading scorer for the Loons with five goals, and debatably their most dangerous player in set piece situations. He’s due for a big game and Nashville presents the perfect opportunity to showcase his Finnish flair.
- Daniel Rios
- Rios is Nashville’s leading scorer with two goals in 2020. Albeit minimal, he’s an influential playmaker for them. The Loons midfield and defense will have their hands full dealing with his pace up top.
- Randall Leal
- Leal is due for a breakout. He was signed as Nashville’s first DP in 2019 and hasn’t quite found his footing. He has one goal and no assists in 12 appearances; Nashville needs him to step up and orchestrate more in the middle of the pitch. Expect him to try and stir up trouble in the middle of the park.
- Walker Zimmerman
- Zimmerman, one of the best defenders in MLS was acquired by Nashville in a blockbuster trade at the beginning of 2020, with them sending a total of $950,000 over two seasons to LAFC. He’s an influential defender who can completely change a franchise; mind you, he’s also a regular in the U.S. Men’s National Team picture. Molino, Lod, Kei Kamara and Reynoso will struggle to get past the brick wall that is Zimmerman.
- Nashville forward Abu Danladi played for Minnesota United for three seasons, scoring 11 goals for the Loons during his time in Minnesota.
- Nashville midfielder, Luke Haakenson, who is on loan to the Charlotte Independence, was born in Maple Grove, Minn.
- Nashville defender Eric Miller played for Minnesota United for two seasons before being selected by Nashville in the 2019 Re-entry draft.
- Minnesota United striker Aaron Schoenfeld was born in Knoxville, Tenn., roughly 2.5 hours outside of Nashville.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday evening at LP Field in Nashville.