Rapids-Minnesota United Preview
Robin Fraser needs no reminding of the quality in-form Minnesota United poses but says his Colorado Rapids side have learned from this season's two encounters.
Colorado lost 2-1 at Allianz Field in late October through a last-minute own goal from Lalas Abubakar, four months on from playing out a 2-2 draw at the MLS is Back Tournament.
The Rapids picked themselves up from that most recent meeting, though, by winning three games in a row to conclude the regular season.
That was enough to see them finish one place behind Minnesota on a points-per-game basis, and Fraser hopes his men now have a better understanding of how to overcome the Loons.
"We were trying to find ourselves at the time," he said. "We were trying to fine tune things that had been off for a while.
"If you give (Minnesota) half an inch they have the players to punish you. They are a very good team with a number of talented players. If you let your guard down for half a second they can turn nothing into something. It will be another tightly-contested game and the team that executes better at both ends of the field will end up winning."
Minnesota enter the MLS Cup playoff first-round match on a club-record unbeaten run of eight matches that includes five clean sheets.
The Loons are into the playoffs for the second season running and head coach Adrian Heath is pleased to have proved his side's doubters wrong.
"It's more satisfaction this year in terms of what we've been through," he said. "This has been the most stressful sort of five to six months that I've ever had in football. I think we've proved an awful lot of people wrong this year with the amount of adversity that we've had to go through. I get a lot of pleasure from that."
Minnesota United - Kevin Molino
The Trinidad and Tobago international scored twice in Minnesota's 3-0 win over FC Dallas last time out, adding to his brace against the same opponents in September.
He also bagged a double against Portland Timbers in March, making him the only player in MLS to record three multi-goal games in the 2020 season.
Colorado Rapids - Andre Shinyashiki
The Rapids scored six goals in their three-game winning streak to see out the regular season, each scored by a different player.
Of Colorado's last 11 goals, Shinyashiki is the only player to have scored more than once, and he could well prove to be the biggest threat to Minnesota's hopes of progressing.
- Minnesota United collected four points against the Rapids this season, including a 2-1 win at Allianz Field in late October. The Loons have won three of their four home matches against Colorado (L1), including the last two.
- This will be Minnesota United's second playoff match after losing 2-1 to the Galaxy at home in last season's first round. The Rapids, meanwhile, have lost their last six away playoff matches dating back to a 2006 win at Dallas.
- Minnesota United enter the playoffs on a club-record eight-match unbeaten run (W4 D4), including wins in three of its last four matches.
- The Loons are also unbeaten in eight straight at home (W5 D3) dating back to a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City in August.
- The Rapids won their final three matches of the regular season, including their last two on the road. It was Colorado's first pair of consecutive away wins in MLS since April 2014. They haven't won three in a row away from home (including playoffs) since April-May 2000.
Updated November 20, 2020