Orlando City-Minnesota United Preview
If Orlando City is to remain undefeated in August, it must find a way to generate a positive result amid the "Wonderwall."
City looks to extend its unbeaten run to a season-high four games Saturday night against a Minnesota United FC side that remains on a path to its first-ever playoff appearance.
Though Orlando (9-11-6) is tied with seventh-place Montreal on 33 points, it's just below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference since the Impact have one more victory. City improved to 2-0-1 this month with a 1-0 home victory over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
Tesho Akindele scored his team-leading ninth goal, and third in four games, in the 21st minute and Orlando posted its second clean sheet in the last three matches.
"At this stage of the season, we needed three points," Orlando coach James O'Connor told the club's official website. "There's multiple things throughout the course of the season that you can point to, but we want to get in the playoffs … that's a massive three points for us."
Now, Orlando will try to get three points on the road, where it's 0-1-3 since winning at Columbus on June 29. City lost 1-0 in its only visit to Minnesota in 2017, but this will be its first trip to Allianz Field, where the Loons are 8-1-4 and have taken 16 of a possible 18 points in their last six games, and in front of the raucous and noisy United supporter section known as the "Wonderwall."
"We face a formidable opponent in Minnesota," O'Connor added. "They've had a good run of form as of late, and they present a lot of different challenges to any team."
Minnesota (12-8-5) has lost once in its last nine MLS games (6-1-2) and sits second in the Western Conference during what's become a special third season in the league. Darwin Quintero (eight goals) missed a penalty kick in the 37th minute on Wednesday, but redeemed himself by scoring two minutes later to help Minnesota top Colorado 1-0 and set the club's single-season mark for victories.
"We've put ourselves in a good spot," Minnesota coach and former Orlando manager Adrian Heath told United's official website. "We're at that stage of the season now. Whoever you play, there's something to play for. I look at our fixtures and everybody's playing for something.
"We're getting no easy games between now and the end of the season, that's for sure. We've got to be prepared."
Updated August 16, 2019