New on Sports Illustrated: Minnesota United-FC Dallas Preview

August 29, 2020 at 06:09AM

Looking to bounce back from their first regular-season loss and get their new keeper stabilized, Minnesota United FC head south for a matchup versus FC Dallas on Saturday night.

The Loons (3-1-2), who reached the semifinals of the MLS Is Back tournament, are on their second-string keeper after Tim Miller underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. While deputy Greg Ranjitsingh does have a championship pedigree with a pair of USL titles to his credit, he does have some adjusting to do at the top tier.

He did not perform all that badly in Minnesota's 2-1 loss to Sporting KC on Aug. 21, finishing with three saves, but there is still some work to be done as the back line continues to operate without reigning two-time MLS Defender of the Yea Ike Opara.

"It's one of them that you always talk about when you're putting it in, swinging in, make sure that they stay in between the post, because that, that can happen," Loons coach Adrian Heath told the team's official website about the first goal conceded. "That's one of them things when people look as though they're gonna go for the ball and nobody touches it and it ends up bobbling in on the back post. I'll have to have another look at it. It looked soft from our position on the bench. I don't think we had enough pressure on the ball. I'll have to have another look at it."

Offensively, Minnesota United's goal came fom an own goal, and Heath lamented what he called his side's "passive start." He also noted his team has to go back to attacking in the final third, something the Loons did with success in Orlando as they totaled 10 goals in their six matches at MLS Is Back.

FC Dallas (1-1-3) is also struggling on the offensive side of the ball, having gone three full matches without a goal after sitting out MLS Is Back due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Hoops also had their Wednesday match versus Colorado postponed as the teams showed solidarity in support of boycotts across multiple leagues in support of Black Lives Matter and protesting the use of force in the police shooting of Jason Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.

"We stand by the players and the staff in this moment to demonstrate togetherness and to bring attention for things to be better," FCD coach Luchi Gonzalez said Wednesday night in a statement. "I think it's an opportunity to learn, to be educated and to give each other love."

If there is a silver lining for the Hoops during their offensive struggles, it has been their defense. FC Dallas has claimed two points from those matches thanks to a stingy defense, which again delivered last Saturday with a scoreless draw versus Houston as they extended their shutout streak to 184 minutes.

The Hoops have won four of the six matchups between the teams since Minnesota United entered the league in 2017, including all three in Frisco. Brandon Servania's late brace lifted FC Dallas to a 5-3 victory in the most recent meeting, offsetting a two-goal effort by Ethan Finlay.

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