(Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune)

(Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. — With Minnesota United FC's inaugural kick-off just hours away at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Portland Timbers, you've probably heard by now the low expectations surrounding the Loons for this season.

Part of that has to do with just how hard it is for expansion teams to even make the playoffs in their first year. Part of it also comes from the comparisons with Atlanta United FC, which has gone about building a team in a very different fa$hion than the Loons have.

Michael Rand over on the Randball blog sums up some of these bottom-dwelling predictions nicely.

I believe it was Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl who sparked the initial flame when answering a mailbag question back in October and saying United could be one of the worst teams in MLS history in its first season.

Ever since coach Adrian Heath came on in late November, though, he's been saying his team will use those bad reviews (or previews, rather) as motivation, just as his former team, Orlando City SC, did when it entered the league in 2015.

"We've used it every single day," Heath said Tuesday. "A lot of people don't know what to expect. I might be in that boat as well. ... We've got a lot of excuses if we need them, but we won't be needing them."

Team captain center-back Vadim Demidov said Tuesday he hasn't actually seen any of the foreboding predictions about his new team, but he also won't ignore the sentiment behind them.

"That's perfect for us. We can surprise this year, and I think we can do it," Demidov said. "We have a really good team. A good roster."

Either way, we'll know by tonight if those lowly forecasts were overblown or not.

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