Preview: A four-match unbeaten streak is the good news for Minnesota United FC. But just three goals and one victory during that stretch are less settling. Ranked fourth in the combined table, the Loons are currently a playoff team. But 10 games remain, starting with an expansion Rayo OKC team that is 1-0-1 against Minnesota this season.
Players to watch: Rayo OKC (3-4-4) hasn’t scored multiple goals in back-to-back North American Soccer League matches since mid-July. Former U.S. national team forward Robbie Findley returns after missing the last Rayo OKC match. With three shutouts in the past four matches, Minnesota (4-3-5) goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock has moved into a tie for second with eight clean sheets this season. Coach Carl Craig also credited the back line, specifically Jeb Brovsky, for a strong defensive effort. Brovsky has played the right outside defender spot vacated since Kevin Venegas went out because of a knee injury in July.
On the mend: Venegas saw action in reserve Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale after missing the eight previous league matches. Forward Stefano Pinho, injured at times this season, also came off the bench.
Welcome home: Saturday marks Minnesota’s first home match since the Aug. 19 announcement that the club would join Major League Soccer next season. The Loons are coming off three matches, all in Florida, in 11 days.
david La Vaque