Preview: Minnesota (4-1-1) must raise its game to hold first place at Indy Eleven (2-0-4), the only North American Soccer League unbeaten.
United FC at a glance: Initially displeased with aspects of his team’s performance in last week’s victory against Jacksonville, Loons coach Carl Craig said game video convinced him otherwise. “We were much better defensively than I thought,” he said. Minnesota earned its fourth clean sheet in five matches. The team, within reach of the spring season title and an automatic playoff spot, isn’t letting up. “We did force turnovers, but we needed to do a better job of keeping the ball,” forward Christian Ramirez said. “We made mental mistakes by giving the ball away in cheap areas.” Craig said forward/midfielder Ben Speas is out “for a couple of weeks” with a “badly sprained ankle.”
Indy Eleven at a glance: Goalkeeper Jon Busch kept a clean sheet against Fort Lauderdale, facing 15 shots and making six saves — one that was nominated for NASL play of the week. Indy Eleven is in fifth place in the league standings, with six goals scored and just four against. “They are like Ottawa last year,” Ramirez said. “They are tough and gritty, strong defensively and hard to break down.” Craig said the Loons must find a way. “We’ve got to go there for a win,” he said. “No ifs or buts.” Indy Eleven has not given up multiple goals in a match.
Stadium decision nears: Minnesota’s legislative session ends Monday, meaning the wait for a stadium decision is down to hours. Major League Soccer won’t commit to a start date for Minnesota until the franchise has a deal in place for its Midway-area stadium site. Legislators are considering a package of tax breaks and a liquor license.
DAVID LA VAQUE