Back on July 29, Minnesota United enjoyed its biggest victory of the season, a 4-0 thrashing of league-worst D.C. United. But only a week later, the Loons were on the wrong end of that same score Saturday thanks to the Seattle Sounders FC, the reigning MLS champions.
United (6-13-4) hasn’t been able to string together back-to-back victories this season. And with another matchup with Seattle (9-7-7) looming Aug. 20 — and only 11 matches left in the season, with all but three on the road, where the Loons are winless — that milestone is looking harder and harder to accomplish.
“Last week, we were on the other end of four-nil, so obviously consistency is a problem for us that we need to address,” midfielder Sam Cronin said. “From my experience, when you have seasons like this, the mentality and the approach to training goes a long way. To dig yourself out, there’s no secret formula. A whole group of guys just needs to keep on practicing like every day’s a game day each and every day. Then slowly but surely, just build yourself out of it.”
The Loons have not been able to string together more than four points this season. They followed a 2-2 draw at the Houston Dynamo on April 15 with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on April 23, and two months later they followed a 3-2 victory against the Portland Timbers on June 21 with a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on June 24.
And as far as immediate rematches, United doesn’t have a good history there either. The Loons lost 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City on June 3 before dropping 4-0 again June 14 in the U.S. Open Cup.
United had 10 days to prepare for that replay. This time around, the Loons have a full two weeks since Atlanta United FC rescheduled its home match to Oct. 3. United center back Michael Boxall said his team needs to work on replicating the first 20 minutes of the second half in Saturday’s loss, where the Loons were on the constant attack at TCF Bank Stadium.
“With the next two weeks preparing, I think we just need to learn with our attacking shape,” Boxall said. “They’re very dangerous on the counterattack. I mean, that’s where most of their chances came from. When we’re back and organized, it’s tough to break us down.”
Seattle, though, ranks second in the league drawing more than 40,000 fans on average, and it has lost only once at CenturyLink Field all season.
“The game will be different in Seattle anyway. The fact is that [when] we are at home, and we have to take the game to them, and we have to open up. It certainly won’t be as open as we were [Saturday],” United coach Adrian Heath said. “But it’s going to be a difficult place to go. You look at their record of four or five years at home, probably taken more points at home than most teams. So it’s going to be a difficult game. But hey, it’s one that we’ve got to look forward to. Get ourselves prepared. And we’ll go again.”