I checked in with our pal Jacob Schneider over at E Pluribus Loonum about the big two-match ‘series’ between the Timbers and Minnesota United this week. Here’s what he had to say.
STF: Minnesota have an excellent home record this year with only one loss. What is it about the team and Allianz Field that’s made them so strong there?
EPL: Allianz Field has been a fortress for us, for the most part. Nearly every match has been sold out, and the Wonderwall is deafening. The support the fans have here is incredible; some of, if not, the best in the league. The team knows how to play coherent soccer at Allianz and they just seem comfortable on the pitch. It’s grass, not turf, which is always a plus too. If the fans show up in full force, and they play their own game, don’t be surprised to see the Loons take three points.
STF: With wins away at LAFC, NYCFC, and Seattle last month, the Timbers have shown that they’ll put any team that tries to play them in open field to the sword. With that in mind, how will the Loons approach the Timbers tactically? Is it possible to see two straight games of bunker-and-counter?
EPL: For the Loons, not having Quintero is going to hurt today. He’s suspended due to YC accumulation, and frankly, he’s our best player in the final third. They’re going to have to mess around with the formation, and I’m thinking we might see a 4-3-3 today with two 8’s and a 6 accompanied by three attackers. It’ll be interesting to see how they plan to deal with Blanco and Fernandez, and you can’t forget Ebobisse either.
Heath mentioned that they’ve watched more film on the Timbers than any other team this season. Take that as you will, but the Loons know that this will be one of their toughest matches of the season.
STF: Neither of these teams have ever won the Open Cup. What would an appearance in the final mean for MNUFC and its fans?
EPL: An appearance in the Open Cup final would mean a lot for either side honestly. If you look at it Gemma neutral perspective, it’s such a fun matchup. Two very successful teams of late going head-to-head in a semifinal clash - it’s a headline of dreams for a tournament.
Landing in the finals this year would show that the first two years of league play where the squad was created, where mistakes were made and learned from, was not for nothing. It would show that we are a team not to be messed with and that come playoff time, teams should be scared of the Loons.
STF: And lastly, any predictions for the matches?
EPL: 1-1 Sunday, 3-3 (5-4 pens) Loons Wed