In pictures: Alonso and Roldan brothers lead Seattle to 3-1 win over Minnesota

Seattle Sounders FC notched their first win of the season on Sunday with a 3-1 win at home against Minnesota United FC. Sounders scored two goals in two minutes from Gustav Svensson and Will Bruin to give Seattle an early lead after 25 minutes. Minnesota brought one back in the 66th minute from Christian Ramirez before Jordy Delem scored his first MLS goal in the dying seconds of the match to end the visitors’ comeback bid.

For the second-straight week Alex Roldan got the start as Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Clint Dempsey both started on the bench before coming on as substitutes. Roldan brought a needed energy to the lineup and made great off-ball runs to create space for his teammates. “I always liked Alex,” said coach Brian Schmetzer after the match. “I thought he was very, very good [at Seattle U]… I just think it’s a great storyline because Alex is becoming not just Cristian’s brother but he’s becoming his own man and I enjoy that.” While he didn’t show up on the stat sheet this week, he outperformed both Dempsey and Eikrem his 60 minutes on the pitch and made a solid case for his continued inclusion in the lineup.

Osvaldo Alonso was healthy enough to make his first start for Seattle since August 27th of last year when he suffered the right quad strain that kept him out of the 2017 MLS Cup. With Alonso in the lineup Seattle are able to control the midfield and organize their attack and that was on display against Minnesota. When Eikrem replaced Alonso in the 75th minute for a planned substitution, Minnesota was able to find more attacking chances due to not having Alonso’s defensive presence in the centre of the pitch.

It was also a great game for Cristian Roldan, recording assists on the first two goals of the match. Playing much of the match in an attacking midfield position, Roldan coordinated the attack, ran at defenders, and drew the attention of the Minnesota defense which opened the field for his teammates.

He and Alonso would get the assists on the first goal of the match as Roldan, playing just in front of United’s back four, draws two defenders as the pass comes from Alonso and makes a first touch pass to Svensson in the now vacated space. Svensson then unleashes a rocket of a ball into the top left corner of the goal with one of the better strikes we’ll see this season.

The second assist for Roldan is the more impressive if not the flashier of the two as he makes a smart run into space on the left wing to stretch the defense before hitting a first time cross into the box. His cross is low and well hit but most impressively it splits two defenders from 20 yards away to find Bruin open at the top of the six-yard-box.

The biggest concern for Seattle though, as they look towards LAFC next week, is how their pace and aggression dropped off after the first 30 minutes of the match. “It was a good [opening] 30 minutes. The key is that we need to watch the film and figure out why, after 30 minutes, the team didn’t perform as well as they should have,” said Schmetzer. “I challenged them at halftime a little bit. ‘You want to be a championship team? Championship teams are able to finish games out, close games out, get that third goal and make sure that the game becomes a little easier.’ After the game, my opinion changed a little bit and I said, ‘Well, championship teams actually kind of win ugly sometimes, and you’ve got to gut things through.’ That’s another character trait of championship teams. In October, nobody’s going to remember that this was a hard game. They’re just going to say, 3-1 scoreline and that’s three points.”

Seattle Sounders next match sees them opening up Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles as they face LAFC. They’ll be looking to get revenge on the league’s newest team after losing 1-0 in the opening game of the season as they kick off at 6 PM PT (1 AM GMT) on Sunday April 29th.

Check out exclusive photos of Sunday’s game, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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2018 Key Transfers: Minnesota United

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Minnesota United and their key signings ahead of their second MLS campaign in 2018…

Minnesota’s inaugural season in MLS was average. They did relatively well with what they had at their disposal, finishing 9th in a very competitive Western Conference. But the points gap between them making the playoffs was as many as ten. Their aim for 2018 has to be to improve on last season, however as you’d expect all the sides who will be gunning for the playoffs will have also improved their squads. Signing just six players so far doesn’t suggest Minnesota are going to be automatic favourites for the playoffs, but they should be able to grow and with each passing game more experience will come. 2017 wasn’t good. But it wasn’t terrible either, given how tough it is for expansion sides.

Key Signings

Tyrone Mears: Having conceded a league high of 70 goals last season it is no surprise to see Minnesota bring in some defensive experience. At 34, Tyrone Mears has an MLS Cup to his name and will bring plenty to the squad both on and off the field.

Matt Lampson: Another defensive signing and this time in the goalkeeping department. Matt Lampson has been playing in MLS since 2012, however he has made just 51 appearances in that time. He may well be selected as the new number one for Minnesota, although last season regular Sammy Ndjock is still at the club. Lampson will be able to provide another experienced head at the club, even through just being part of squad as he heads into his sixth MLS year.

Harrison Heath: At 21, Harrison Heath is another solid signing for Minnesota. He is yet to really make a name for himself but this season may be his chance. His family connection with head coach Adrian Heath will see plenty expected from him and the pressure will be on him to deliver even more so when selected. One to watch…

Mason Toye: Picked up in the SuperDraft, there will not be a huge amount expected from Mason Toye in his first professional season. At 19 the forward comes in with a college soccer record of 10 goals in 25 games last season. He is 6ft 3 and will be hoping to get chances to prove himself.

Notable Departures

Kevin Venegas: While Minnesota’s defence struggled to cope with the pressures of MLS in their debut campaign there were some players who would have enjoyed a second shot at it in the coming season. Kevin Venegas is one of those faces but the club he decided he is not in their plans for the coming season.

Jermaine Taylor: While Jermaine Taylor only featured 14 times last season for Minnesota he is a notable departure in the respect that he has plenty of experience. Despite nearing 150 MLS appearances, he is one of those that the club have decided to part company with in their bid to find more defensive solidarity in the 2018 campaign.

Johan Venegas: Minnesota have loaned out Johan Venegas after he made 22 appearances in 2017. They clearly see the value in looking to keep him in part of their long-term plans, with his departure not a permanent one as of yet.

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – Vancouver looking to win conference as playoff race heats up

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – The playoff race in the Western Conference is set to go down to the wire. The Vancouver Whitecaps lead Sporting Kansas City by three points heading into what should be an action-packed Week 32. Ten of the eleven Western Conference sides play each other, while Portland host DC United in the only inter-conference matchup of the weekend.

All of this week’s games involving sides from the West will kickoff at the same time on Sunday night at 19:30 ET (00:30 BST). So you can guarantee there will be drama as some teams look to nail down playoff berths, and others are fighting to keep their dreams alive. Read on for all of this weekend’s Western Conference predictions: MLS week 32 should be a good one…

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Real Salt Lake

This late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash is a big deal. Real Salt Lake are still fighting to get into the playoffs with two games to go. But they must travel to the home of their fiercest rival in MLS. The Rapids’ playoffs hopes have been over for some time but they would love nothing more than to ruin RSL’s season on Sunday night. Real Salt Lake, though, have only lost one of their last six. A loss would likely spell the end to their season, depending on other results, so they must avoid defeat.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Houston Dynamo

These two meet for the second time in five days on Sunday. The Dynamo prevented SKC going joint-top of the West with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They gave their own playoffs hopes a huge boost with that win and will be looking to take at least one more point off of SKC here. Sporting KC haven’t yet secured a playoff berth, despite sitting second with two games to go. A victory would solve that issue, but the absence of goalkeeper Tim Melia could be significant.

LA Galaxy 2-3 Minnesota United

Few people would have thought LA Galaxy would be coming into the penultimate weekend of the season seven points behind Minnesota United. But the problems in LA this season have left them with a year to forget. They will want to avoid finishing dead last in the West and need to try and end the season on a high. But Minnesota are in fairly good form, having only lost one of their last five. They beat Atlanta United in their latest road trip and could add to LA’s misery on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas

Both these sides come into the weekend in playoff spots, but know a defeat on Sunday could put them in real trouble. Seattle have two home games remaining. They sit fourth and could still finish the season with a Knockout Round bye. FC Dallas are in a much more precarious position. They are only a point above RSL and San Jose in the final playoff spot and can’t really afford to drop any points. Head coach Oscar Pareja has called this game “the season”, and he’s not wrong. But they aren’t in good form and have lost four-straight games at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The Whitecaps are the only Western Conference side to have sealed a playoff berth with 180 minutes of football to go. That’s quite incredible but also testament to their consistency this season. They can guarantee a Knockout Round bye with a home win agains San Jose on Sunday. But the visitors are fighting for their lives too. The Quakes beat Portland last time out to keep their top six hopes intact. But they still need to overtake RSL and Dallas to seal a playoff spot. Vancouver are a real force at home and should prove too much for San Jose.

Portland Timbers 3-0 DC United

Portland missed the chance to seal their playoff spot when they fell 2-1 at San Jose last time out. That result also saw them drop out of the top two. They do now have two home games to finish the season though and will expect to beat DC on Sunday. The Eastern Conference playoff race is over and DC United won’t be playing postseason football. They’ll still want to show some fight but the fact is they will finish bottom of the East after a poor season. Don’t expect them to spoil things in Portland.

Gallery: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Last-gasp Dempsey penalty breaks Loons hearts

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Minnesota were seconds away from picking up an impressive away draw at Seattle on Sunday. But then the referee pointed to the spot. Clint Dempsey stepped up, and converted to complete the hosts’ comeback victory.

Minnesota have still yet to win an away game in MLS. But they must have fancied their chances when new arrival Ethan Finlay scored on his Loons debut. The former Columbus man put the visitors 1-0 up against the odds. But their lead didn’t last long.

Set-pieces have hurt Minnesota so often this season and Sunday was no different. Chad Marshall headed home from Nicolas Lodeiro’s cross in the 31st minute to tie the game up. But the Sounders struggled to kick on.

Minnesota stood firm and created chances themselves, with rookie striker Abu Danladi missing a couple of golden opportunities. The scores were level heading into the final few seconds. But then Seattle got the penalty.

Jermaine Taylor was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area. Dempsey stepped up and coolly slotted past Bobby Shuttleworth to give the hosts their third-straight win. The Sounders are top of the West. The Loons stay bottom.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Minnesota United – Gallery:

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Minnesota United vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Minnesota United vs. Columbus Crew
Venue: TCF Bank Stadium – Tuesday, July 4 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST) 
Match Odds: Minnesota United 13/8 – Draw 5/2 – Columbus Crew 29/20

Preview

Minnesota United welcome Columbus Crew to TCF Bank Stadium on Tuesday evening. It’s the first ever meeting between the two in Major League Soccer.

The home side are sitting 10th in the Western Conference, winning just five games season. They have struggled to keep the opposition out and as a result Minnesota have conceded 41 goals, 11 in their last five games.

It seems unlikely that Minnesota will reach the playoffs as they trail the top six by four points. Although that isn’t a huge tally the Western Conference is fiercely competitive and it is their first season in MLS.

Columbus Crew have been in and out of the top six in the Eastern Conference this season. However, they are going to need to perform more consistently if they are to finish in a playoff spot.

They come into this one having lost 2-0 at home to Atlanta. A disappointing result and one that will give Minnesota some confidence.

Columbus have struggled on the road in 2017. They’ve lost six of their last seven and they’ve conceded at least two in the last six of those games.

Team News

Minnesota’s injury woes continue, they could be without seven players on Tuesday evening. Bernardo Anor, Thomas de Villardi, Joseph Greenspan, Marc Burch, Vadim Demidov, Brent Kallman and Abu Danladi all look set to be out.

Columbus Crew are looking set to be without up to three through injury for the trip to Minnesota as Gaston Sauro, Ben Swanson and Niko Hansen are all expected to be out.

Minnesota United vs Columbus Crew: Key Points

Minnesota United’s last five: L/L/W/D/L

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: Leaky – No side has conceded more goals than Minnesota United in MLS this season. Their backline has been breached 41 times and Columbus Crew will fancy their chances of adding to that total in this fixture.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Argentine playmaker has contributed to 11 goals so far in 2017. His haul of nine goals makes him joint top scorer for Columbus Crew and he will be key to unlocking Minnesota here.

Prediction

Minnesota United 2-2 Columbus Crew – Minnesota haven’t struggled to find the back of the net, but they have been woeful defensively. They certainly have the ability to cause their opposition trouble here. Columbus Crew will see this as a winnable game, but they have not travelled well this season. A score draw looks seems likely.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Minnesota United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Minnesota United
Venue: Yankee Stadium – Thursday, June 29 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)
Match Odds: NYCFC 2/5 – Draw 15/4 – Minnesota 11/2

Match Preview

New York City welcome Minnesota United to Yankee Stadium on Thursday night as Week 18 gets started with a first-ever MLS clash between the two sides.

NYCFC will be in high spirits after picking up a first win at Red Bull Arena in Saturday’s 2-0 derby win. That result kept them in third place in the East and just five behind Toronto at the top of the standings.

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Patrick Vieira’s men have looked strong all season but they are particularly good at home. They are unbeaten in four at Yankee Stadium and have won three of those.

That will sound ominous for a Minnesota side that have struggled massively on their travels in their inaugural season so far.

The Loons have lost four in a row away from home in all competitions and have picked up just two points from eight away games in MLS this term.

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They come into the game off the back of Saturday’s hard-fought 2-2 home draw with Vancouver, in which they came back from two goals to earn a point. But they know they will need to put in a special performance if they are to halt NYCFC on Thursday.

This will be the first clash between the two sides in history, so it should be an exciting matchup between two sides with plenty of dangerous attacking players at their disposal.

Team News

New York City FC will be without attacking duo Khiry Shelton and Maxi Moralez once again, with both still sidelined through injury. Ronald Matarrita is in line to start after coming off the bench in Saturday’s win at Red Bull Arena.

Minnesota United’s injury list is still worrying long as Bernardo Anor, Thomas de Villardi, Joseph Greenspan, Abu Danladi, Marc Burch, Vadim Demidov and Brent Kallman are all set to miss out.

Key Points

NYCFC’s form: L/D/W/W/W

Minnesota United’s form: W/L/L/W/D

Key Stat: Minnesota United haven’t won away from home since joining MLS. In fact, they haven’t won a single away game of any kind since beating FC Edmonton in April 2016.

Key Player: Jack Harrison – The young English attacker has been in great form this season and added his seventh goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win at the Red Bulls with a fine strike into the top corner. He has three goals and two assists in his last six MLS outings and will look to hurt the Loons here.

Score Prediction

New York City FC 3-0 Minnesota United – It’s difficult to see anything other than an NYCFC win in this one. Minnesota are decimated by injuries and haven’t looked like winning away from home this season. New York City have hit stride at a crucial stage of the season and should continue to put pressure on Toronto FC at the top of the East with a routine home victory.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Minnesota United vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Minnesota United vs. LA Galaxy
Venue: TCF Bank Stadium – Sunday, May 21 – 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT) 
Match Odds: Minnesota United 18/8 – Draw 13/5 – LA Galaxy 7/5

Match Preview

Minnesota United welcome Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy to TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon with the sides locked level on points.

The home side have conceded an MLS high 28 goals already in their first 11 games since their inauguration, however things are starting to look a little better for them as they have picked up seven points in their last five.

Minnesota come into this one having lost 3-2 away at Toronto. They looked good value for a 2-2 result until the latter stages of the game and they will eventually pick up more points with those types of performances once the team become more familiarised.

LA Galaxy have been underwhelming so far this season. They look well off the pace and are already 11 points behind the Western Conference leaders.

Key players were not replaced after departing in the off-season and they are desperate for their remaining DP’s like Giovani dos Santos to show the form they did last season.

LA come into this one having put their winless streak to bed. It had been four games since they picked up a win but an impressive performance away at Red Bull quickly reminded everyone what they are capable of. Curt Onalfo will be expecting his side to take points this weekend.

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Team News

Minnesota United are expecting to be without two this weekend as Bernardo Anor and Thomas de Villardi are out.

LA Galaxy have four players still recovering from injury, Robbie Rogers, Sebastian Lletget, Clement Diop and Jermaine Jones are all expected to miss out

Minnesota United’s last five: D/W/L/W/L

La Galaxy’s last five: L/L/D/D/W

Key Stat: Minnesota have conceded 28 goals already this season, which is only 11 less than Galaxy did during the whole of the 2016 regular season.

Key Player: Romain Alessandrini – The forward has been LA Galaxy’s standout player since joining this season. He has netted six times and has three assists.

Score Prediction

Minnesota United 1-3 LA Galaxy – Minnesota United to suffer their 6th defeat of this season. LA Galaxy are desperately in need of three points to close the gap on the top six and they will be expected to do so by their fans.

MLS UK TV Schedule: May 2017 – 12 live games in four weeks

We’re nine weeks into the 2017 MLS season and it’s already proven to be as unpredictable as ever. The likes of Orlando City and Portland Timbers are flying, while LA Galaxy and Philadelphia Union are in danger of being left behind after slow starts.

May will see a total of 52 MLS games played across the league and UK fans will be able to catch 12 of the games live on Sky Sports. Seattle, Atlanta and NYCFC fans will be able to watch their teams play three times each this month, with 14 of the league’s 22 sides live on Sky at least once over the next four weeks.

Saturday, May 6th

Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC – 20:00 BST – Sky Sports Mix

DC United vs Montreal Impact – 23:00 BST – Sky Sports Mix

Sunday, May 7th

Minnesota United vs Sporting Kansas City – 18:30 BST – Sky Sports Mix

New York City FC vs Atlanta United – 21:00 BST – Sky Sports 3

Saturday, May 13th

Montreal Impact vs Columbus Crew – 22:00 BST – Sky Sports 5

Sunday, May 14th

Portland Timbers vs Atlanta United – 21:00 BST – Sky Sports 2

NY Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy – 23:00 BST – Sky Sports 2

Saturday, May 20th

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake – 22:00 BST – Sky Sports 2

Sunday, May 21st

Minnesota United vs LA Galaxy – 22:00 BST – Sky Sports 2

Orlando City vs New York City FC – 00:00* BST – Sky Sports 2

*This game is officially listed as Monday, May 22nd but will take place late on the Sunday evening.

Saturday, May 27th

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers – 20:00 BST – Sky Sports 5

Sunday, May 28th

Atlanta United vs New York City FC – 22:00 BST – Sky Sports 2

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Minnesota United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. Minnesota United
Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, March 25 – 14:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Match Odds: New England Revolution 2/5 – Draw 100/30 – Minnesota United 13/2

Match Preview

New England play their first home match of the season on Saturday night, with Minnesota United making the trip to Gillette Stadium with both sides still looking for their first win of 2017.

Having lost both games so far, the Revolution are already off the pace in the race for the playoffs. Of course they are only two games in, but points on the board will be essential come crunch time and the Revs need to pick up quickly as a result.

Their home game with Orlando City was postponed two weeks ago due to bad weather but New England will now hope that playing in front of their own fans will see their fortunes improve.

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Failing to win here would put serious questions on the direction of the franchise after two seasons which have seen the side underperform after reaching the 2014 MLS Cup Final. It cannot be long before Jay  Heaps’ position is put under scrutiny if things don’t turn around.

On the flip side, Adrian Heath will be in charge for only his fourth competitive match as Minnesota manager. However, his disappointing time in Orlando has left his critics with a lot to mull over and a quick turnaround after a slow start would do both Heath, and the team the world of good.

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As Minnesota still search for a debut win in MLS, they will have to dismantle a run of four-straight home wins in MLS for the Revolution stretching back to last season. They will also need to try and shut the flood gates at the back, which have seen them concede 13 goals in only three games thus far.

Like we mentioned before, this game is an interesting one. Both sides are desperately craving three points and so we are expecting an open affair. Minnesota will have to prove their squad depth with so many players away on international duty or on the sidelines with injuries.

Team News

New England Revolution will be without goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who misses out with a concussion. Zachary Herivaux is listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain. The Revs are fortunate to have no international call-ups to contend with as they look for their first points of the season.

Minnesota United are missing eight for the trip to Boston and are set to only be able to name a 17-man squad as a result. Bernardo Anor and John Alvbage are out with leg injuries, while Patrick McLain and Joseph Greenspan are both out with concussions.Thomas de Villardi has suffered a serious injury and is expected to be out for some time. On the international front, Kevin Molino (Trinidad), Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) and Rasmus Schuller (Finland) are all away and won’t be involved. Justin Davis is suspended after picking up a red card last weekend.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s form: L/L

Minnesota United’s form: L/L/D

Key Stat: Minnesota United have conceded a total of 13 goals in their opening three fixtures – an average of 4.3 per game.

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – The Revolution’s maestro should be the most creative player on the park come Saturday and could see plenty of the ball to cause trouble against a Minnesota defence that has proven to be the most vulnerable in the league through the first month of the new season.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-1 Minnesota United – Both sides are out of form and struggling to adapt to the most competitive MLS season to date. Minnesota have the excuse of being the new guys but will likely struggle with so many players absent for their trip to Boston. This is a big game for the home side and we see the Revolution edging it, just.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs Minnesota United FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Saturday, March 18 – 21:00 ET (01:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Colorado Rapids 2/5 – Draw 16/5 – Minnesota United 13/2

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids welcome struggling MLS new boys Minnesota United to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday in a game that looks like it is going to go only one way.

The Rapids won their opening game of the season but lost 1-0 to Red Bulls last weekend, a result they will be expected to bounce back from here.

Pablo Mastroeni will demand nothing more than a win but will make his side aware they are not to undermine their opposition or take things lightly just because of their previous two results. There will be plenty of respect on the field with Colorado looking to get the job done early.

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Minnesota United have really struggled in their opening two games of their first ever MLS campaign. This is one of the last places they will want to visit off the back of already conceding 11 goals this season.

Adrian Heath’s side were taken apart 6-1 in the coldest game in MLS history last weekend and things will get better for them. The side has plenty to learn and become accustom to and if they put in a solid performance this weekend they will send a message out to the rest of the Western Conference that they’re not just here for a hiding.

Minnesota are conceding a goal every 16 minutes so far this season. Defensively things are going to have to drastically improve if they’re to start picking up points.

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Team News

Colorado Rapids have four injury concerns as John Berner, Axel Sjoberg, Kevin Doyle and Alan Gordon are all sidelined.

Bernardo Anor and John Alvbage are Minnesota United’s only injury concerns heading into this tie.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ form: W/L

Minnesota United’s form: L/L

Key Stat: Fortress – Colorado Rapids have lost just once in their last 20 Major League Soccer home games

Key Player: Dominique Badji – The Rapids forward has netted once already this season and this is a great chance for him to show he can provide on a regular basis.

Dominique Badji celebrating his first goal of the season via: coloradorapids.com

Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 5-0 Minnesota United – It’s not a prediction made lightly but Colorado are very strong at home and Minnesota have been thumped in both of their fixtures this season. We expect The Rapids to win comfortably.