At long last, Minnesota United has a home of its own.
The third-year MLS franchise look to christen Allianz Field with a victory Saturday when it hosts New York City FC.
Minnesota United (3-2-0) started the season on a five-match road swing, but it appears to be well worth the wait as the $200 million soccer-specific stadium in St. Paul will host its first match. The Loons had been playing at TCF Bank Stadium since joining Major League Soccer in 2017 and are understandably excited to play in their new digs, which has a capacity of 19,400.
“This weekend has to be a celebration,” Minnesota United sporting director Manny Lagos told the league’s official website. “We have to put our chest out a little bit with a sense of pride that we think we’re going to have one of the nicest stadiums in this region.
“The stadium was really well thought out and designed, the vision was amazing from the ownership group, particularly Dr. McGuire to push for a design that shows how much pride we have in our unique Twin Cities area.”
Minnesota capped its road trip on a positive note, defeating the Red Bulls 2-1 last Saturday. Abu Danladi and Romario Ibarra scored on either side of halftime, and the Loons saw off a second-half challenge to avoid a third consecutive defeat.
“We’ve showed that the mentality of the group is different,” coach Adrian Heath said, referring to the turnover that led to an influx of veteran players arriving in Minnesota. “We showed we can defend in numbers and showed we’re good in the counterattack.”
Midfielder Darwin Quintero, who factored on six of the club’s nine goals in the first four matches with three goals and three assists, could miss his second straight contest due to a groin injury.
New York City FC (0-1-4) has struggled at the outset of the season as it continues to look for a primary goal-scorer to replace retired playmaker David Villa. NYCFC have tallied just four goals thus far and been blanked in three matches after playing the Impact to a scoreless draw at home last Saturday.
Manager Dome Torrent made four changes to the XI that lost 4-0 at Toronto FC in the previous match, but even with a man advantage for the final 20 minutes, New York City FC failed to find a cutting edge in the final third as just four of its 13 shots were on target.
“At this moment, I don’t want to hide behind saying that we don’t have luck,” central defender Maxime Chanot told the club’s official website. “We may be in a bad moment but I know that inside the group and inside the Club, we all believe in ourselves, I’m sure goals will come for sure.”
The sides have split two all-time matches, with Minnesota recording a 2-1 home victory last year on a first-half brace by Angelo Rodriguez. Rodney Wallace had a late consolation marker for NYCFC, which failed to do much with its 63 percent possession in the match.
(Romario Ibarra photo courtesy Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)