Now 0-4 with last season a fleeting memory after Saturday's 3-2 loss at Colorado, Minnesota United is chasing history, just not the kind it seeks.
Only two teams since the MLS shootout era ended in 2000 have reached the playoffs after losing their first four games — both of them came in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when New York City FC started 0-4 and expansion Inter Miami CF started 0-5.
In 2009, L.A. Galaxy reached midseason with only two victories; D.C. United did so with three in 2018. Both those teams made the playoffs as well.
Now here the Loons are after they reached the Western Conference final in December and came within mere minutes of playing in the MLS Cup: They are last in all of MLS, the only team that hasn't earned a single point.
The Loons are one point behind the Toronto FC, Chicago and Cincinnati in the East. They are three points behind Portland, which is next to last in the West, and nine points behind conference leaders San Jose and L.A. Galaxy.
"To be honest, we are not in the place to look at that right now," Loons midfielder Jan Gregus said after Saturday's game. "We have to win the next game and then win and win and win. We have to look in front of ourselves, and right now we are not even in position to look for the playoffs."
None of them ever imagined they would be in this position nearly a month into their fifth MLS season.
"Everybody here wants to win," Gregus said. "The expectations we had before the season, now it's completely opposite. We are last and we didn't win one game and the amount of goals conceded, it's very bad. We need to break it with the following game because this is unacceptable."
His team has little time to wallow. The Loons play Vancouver on Wednesday night at Allianz Field.
"Obviously, it's a huge game for us on Wednesday," Loons coach Adrian Heath said. "If we're not aware of it, we should be. We're at this stage now where we've got to start winning some games and getting some points on the board. We have to play better."
The visiting Loons played Seattle to a scoreless tie at halftime in the season opener and led Colorado 2-0 after 45 minutes Saturday, getting first-half goals from Emanuel Reynoso and Hassani Dotson.
Yet, they surrendered a combined seven goals in that 4-0 loss to Seattle and Saturday's decision.
"It's the harsh realities if you defend like we have on the road, giving up seven goals," Heath said about his team's position. "The irony is the two from us in the first half tonight have been probably the best we've played. I thought we were exceptional at times. All the things we did well in the first half, we didn't do in the second half."
Colorado scored three goals in 25 minutes after halftime in the pouring rain and at altitude. The winner was Rapids center back Danny Wilson's 82nd-minute goal, in which he rose over everybody to head the ball off a long free kick past Loons keeper Dayne St. Clair. It came after Heath subbed Brent Kallman for Reynoso because he thought his team needed a fifth back-line defender to withstand Colorado's mounting pressure.
"I thought an extra body might help us," Heath said. "It wasn't to be."
The Loons were missing starting center back Bakaye Dibassy — who has yet to play this season because of a thigh injury — and finished without starting right back Romain Metanire, who left in the 67th minute holding his leg. MLS veteran Jukka Raitala started for Dibassy again and Dotson dropped back from attacker to play Metanire's position.
"With Romain going off, we had to restructure again," Heath said. "This group of players defended really well last year, especially when it was important down the stretch and games were tight. This year it seems we make the wrong choices. We have to stop it and it has to be pretty soon, for sure."