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Match Preview: Minnesota at Fort Lauderdale

by on 31 August 2016

Minnesota United FC look to find their second win in four games in Fort Lauderdale. The Strikers could jump as high as sixth on the fall table and fifth on the combined table with a win, while United hopes to solidify its playoff hopes.

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.

Recent Form

FTL W L W D W +4
GD
2.0 PPG
MNUFC L L W D D -3
GD
1.0 PPG

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.

Previous Meetings

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.

Officials

Referee Nima Saghafi
Assistant Benjamin Jackson III
Assistant Matthew Osterhouse
Fourth Jonathan Weiner

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.

Roster Report

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.

Statistical Notes

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: Last Time Out

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.35.37 PM

Minnesota: Last Time Out

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.39.49 PM

Matchup

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.

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  • Alex Schieferdecker

    The big things I’m watching tonight are:

    How does Laing fit in? His goal on Saturday papered over a lot of turnovers, especially in the first half. Can he find a better rhythm? Will we be willing to play long balls into space for him? Can he help Christian by winning headed balls?

    How does our midfield three operate? Against Miami, they were very dominant defensively, with Pitch behind Blake behind Speas, and in retaining possession. But they couldn’t really catalyze any attacking opportunities. Will they improve that tonight?

    • Ryan Hodkiewicz

      I hope so. Speas doesn’t look 100% but he is key for building any attack in the center of the field. Not sure what Blake brings to the table so far… He seems mediocre at everything. Ibson’s attitude is poor but we really miss that deep lying playmaker in CM.

  • PaleVermilion

    I really hope Christian starts becoming a complete player and helps the team more. He is so one dimensional. He can finish well, yes, but he does nothing else. He doesn’t win headers (either doesn’t time his jump right, or spins around the defender hoping that defender misses), is very predictable when he passes off to teammates (constantly tries to back pass with his heel), and flops way too much. And any time something doesn’t go right, he stands there in his “oh, I was so close!” pose and doesn’t try to win the ball back. I know he’s a striker and his responsibilities are different than the mids, but still, too often it seems like he is a hindrance to the team when things aren’t going perfect. The fact that he has so many goals I feel is more of a credit to the team around him than it his to him.

    Maybe I’m way off base, as I know I’m not an elite soccer mind. It just gets tiresome to see other guys on the team busting their butts for a full 90 minutes while he seems to only give a half effort.

    • Ryan Hodkiewicz

      He also drops back into the midfield or is out of position quite a bit when we really need someone pressing the back line. He needs Speas to play under him and push forward so he can stay up top for the quick outlet.

    • Alex Schieferdecker

      Woah, I disagree. Well except for the header stuff. He’s bad at winning a header.

      But if you play it to his feet, he rarely loses the ball. He often makes a smart pass back, but he’s got a good sense for others in his area. As for his defensive effort, if you look at the NASL’s OPTA chalkboards, Christian actually makes a surprising amount of tackles and recoveries. I can think of several goals he’s scored in the past thanks to good defensive work.

      • BJ

        I guess I would have to look at the OPTA numbers but only in last 2 games have I noticed a lot of movement. He always seems very static to me, this year. In 2014 and 2015 he seemed to move left/right a bit more, cutting out/in depending on his teammates movements – of course most of that was him and batman.