Minnesota have been unimpressive lately, struggling for form and consistency. Both teams are in a three-game unbeaten streak, but the streaks couldn’t be more different. The Floridians have seven of nine points and a +4 goal differential, while Minnesota has five of nine and a -1 GD.
Minnesota is in the playoffs by virtue of a good Spring Season and good start to the Fall. They would need to lose two straight and have Tampa Bay or Fort Lauderdale win two in fall out of the playoffs. Still, defeating one of the closest teams on the table would do the Loons a world of good.
United is 2-0 against the Strikers this season, winning the games 3-0 and 3-1. Across all seasons, the Loons are 13-5-5 against the Strikers, with four of those wins coming in Fort Lauderdale. Minnesota has outscored the Strikers 16-7 in Florida. It has been over a month since the two teams met, having last played in Minnesota on July 23.
|Assistant||Benjamin Jackson III|
Mr. Saghafi made his professional debut on March 20th of 2016 as a fourth official in a match between the Philadelphia Union and the New England Revolution.
Minnesota will be without Ibson, who is serving a 2-match suspension from a red card. No players have returned from injury, so the Loons will still miss Danny Cruz, Stefano Pinho, Kevin Venegas, and Greg Jordan. Jean-Marc Alexandre is out for Fort Lauderdale’s season with an ACL injury suffered against Minnesota in their last meeting; Neil Hlavaty remains injured for the season.
The two teams are very similar in most statistical categories. United passes more often than Fort Lauderdale, but they have roughly the same completion percentage. United also crosses more often than the Strikers, but the two complete almost the same percentage of crosses. In other words: United tends to build its attack slower than the Strikers.
The biggest statistical difference is in the two teams’ finishing. United has found the net with 32 of its 90 shots, while Fort Lauderdale has only scored on 22 of its 90 shots. In an effort to address that problem, Fort Lauderdale attempted to address this issue on August 9, signing Italian forward Amauri, formerly of Juventus and several other clubs in Serie A.
Fort Lauderdale came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation in its 3-1 win over Ottawa. The Strikers’ attack was led by Amauri, backed up by Paulo Jr and Bryan Arguez on the wings and José Angulo in the #10 role. Fort Lauderdale is projected to make a change in attack, likely bringing Adrianinho in for Arguez.
Minnesota changed its formation to a 4-1-4-1 in the 1-1 draw with Miami. With no additional injuries and players only starting to return to fitness, it’s like we’ll see a similar setup for the Loons. The changes most likely to be made are on the wings, particularly Watson, or in the attacking midfield, with Jack Blake starting on the bench for another mid.
The big battle here will be on the wings. Paulo, Jr. and Adrianinho will look to pressure United’s fullbacks and the Loons will likely respond in kind. Given the Strikers’ more direct style of play, don’t be surprised to see the Floridians defending and looking to strike on the counter.