Preview: Minnesota’s five-match unbeaten streak ended with a 1-0 loss at New York. The Loons (5-4-5) hold the fourth and final playoff spot with eight matches left. Saturday’s game marks the first of two consecutive matches against Ottawa (3-6-5), currently 10th in the 12-team combined North American Soccer League standings. The Fury has not won in its past eight games, but has played to five consecutive draws.
Players to watch: Ottawa defender Rafael Alves made the most recent NASL team of the week. He made 14 clearances and eight interceptions as well as winning 11 duels in two games. Fury goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, the NASL Golden Glove recipient last season, made a save against Puerto Rico that was voted Week 11’s top play. For Minnesota, Christian Ramirez leads the NASL in scoring with 14 goals. Teammate Ben Speas paces the Loons with 32 scoring chances created.
Numbers: Zero. That’s how many minutes all six Minnesota players named to the league’s Best XI team in 2015 — Justin Davis, Ibson, Lance Laing, Stefano Pinho, Ramirez and Kevin Venegas —have been on the pitch at the same time this season. They have all appeared in the same game four times, but in each case at least one entered as a substitute for another.
Injuries: Center back Damion Lowe is expected to play Saturday after recovering from a hamstring injury. Right outside back Venegas, sidelined by a knee injury much of August, could play a bigger role after coming off the bench in two of the past three games.
david la vaque