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The United Beat

Jerry Zgoda writes about Major League Soccer and Minnesota United.

Metanire only man missing for Loons playoff game tonight

Starting right back Romain Metanire is the only one of four Minnesota United players who didn't get back from international play with their national team in time for tonight's MLS Cup first-round playoff game against Colorado at Allianz Field.

Versatile Hassani Dotson will start in his spot instead.

Loons coach Adrian Heath on Friday declared him team "fit and healthy" for the first time maybe all season and was just awaiting the return of Finland's Robin Lod, Slovakia's Jan Gregus, Sierra Leone's Kei Kamara and Madagascar's Metarie.

The other three made it back and passed COVID-19 testing in time for tonight.

Heath on Friday said Metanire had been delayed getting back into country, which extended to Sunday.

If the fourth-seeded Loons beat Colorado, they will play at Sporting Kansas City on Dec. 1 or 2. Top-seeded Sporting K.C. held off eighth-seeded San Jose on penalty kicks this afternoon.

Lod will start up top as he did in the season finale against FC Dallas and and Kevin Molino, Emanuel Reynoso and Ethan Finlay will play behind him.

Gregus returns to the midfield with Marlon Hairston while Ozzie Alonso returns the 18, available as a substitute.

Michael Boxall is back on the backline with Chase Gasper, Bakaye Dibassy and Dotson to his right. He will wear the captain's armband with Alonso coming off the bench.

Here's the Loons lineuo]

                            Robin Lod

Kevin Molino   Emanuel Reynoso  Ethan Finlay

                 Marlon Hairston  Jan Gregus

Chase Gasper  Bakaye Dibassy, Michael Boxall and Dotson.

                        Dayne St. Clair


Home playoff game on line for Minnesota United tonight vs. FC Dallas on Decision Day

It's Decision Day in MLS and your Minnesota United is playing along with all the other Western Conference teams, a 5:50 p.m. Central start against FC Dallas with a home playoff game at stake.

Win and the Loons move from fifth-place to fourth and hold off Dallas, Los Angeles FC, even Colorado.

Lose or draw and it opens up all kinds of possibilties, depending on how all the three aforementioned teams fare today.

“For me, it’s very clear: You win and you’re in that fourth spot,”  Loons veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay said. “That should be our sole focus. It’s nice honestly knowing you don’t have to depend on any other result to go your way. We get to play at home on Decision Day, which is a great benefit. We know what’s at stake.”

Interesting about tonight's 11: Robin Lod playing up top with Kevin Molino, Emanuel Reynoso and Ethan Finlay behind him.

Striker Kei Kamara is not in the 18 (or the 20 tonight), apparently a late scratch.

That leaves the Loons with now true striker now that Luis Amarilla has had season-ending ankle injury and Aaron Schoenfeld is out with a calf injury.

The Loons also are without defender Michael Boxall (knee) and defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso (leg), both of whom are aimed toward a return for the first playoff game.

Four Loons starters -- Kamara, Lod and Jan Gregus and defender Romain Metanire -- all are headed to national-team duty to play as many as three games each after tonight's game, here in this November FIFA international window.

None are expected to be back and through quarantine by the time the Loons play their first playoff game, which could be as early as Nov. 21.

“It’s a delicate situation, us and a few other clubs in a bit of a hole,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “If the quarantine stays at nine days, they’ll probably miss the playoff game, which is not ideal when you consider you work all year to make the playoffs.”

Here's your Loons lineup:

                         Robin Lod

Kevin Molino   Emanuel Reynoso   Ethan FInlay

              Marlon Hairston  Jan Gregus    

Bakaye Dibassy   Jose Aja, Brent Kallman   Romain Metanire

                        Dayne St. Clair

Substitutes: Hassani Dotson, Chase Gasper, Noah Billingsley, Greg Ranjitsingh, Sam Gleadle, Foster Langsdorf, James Musa, Kevin Partido, Adrian Zendejas.

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