The Twin Cities await as the Dynamo head north to the brand new Allianz Field to take on Minnesota United. Can Houston continue the hot start in 2019 or will the road woes of year’s past come back to rear it’s ugly head?
To preview the match up, we spoke with Jacob Schneider of E Pluribus Loonum and asked him a some questions about Minnesota United.
Dynamo Theory: The Dynamo make their first visit to the brand new Allianz Field. How significant is the opening of the new stadium for Minnesota and its fans and what’s the atmosphere been like so far?
E Pluribus Loonum: Allianz Field has been an absolute fortress for the Loons so far this year. The stadium is absolutely gorgeous and the supporters section, The Wonderwall, has been outstanding. We’re undefeated in MLS play at Allianz, and I really do think they play a major role in that. It’s everyone’s goal to sing “Wonderwall” at the end of the night. The atmosphere is electric, you can barely hear yourself think at times. For opponents, it has to be difficult to play in at times as the whole stadium will get into chants; it’s an echoing chamber of M-N-U-F-C being shouted from every section. For the Loons, Allianz isn’t just their home stadium; it’s their home and they’re not letting anybody leave with anything valuable.
DT: The Loons sent one of their strikers, Romario, out on loan this week, so what does the attack look like for Minnesota come Saturday?
EPL: Romario being sent to Pachuca came as a surprise to many, but if we look at it closely, it makes a lot of sense. Editor Eli Hoff breaks it down really well here.
For Saturday however, Angelo Rodriguez, Darwin Quintero, Ethan Finlay and Kevin Molino should be the names Dynamo fans should prepare to see threaten their end. Ethan Finlay has been on fire for the Loons of recent, scoring the game winner against Columbus last weekend while also being named to MLS TOTW. Quintero is in a bit of a scoring slump, but if he is feeling himself, there’s no telling what he can do to help the Loons attack. Kevin Molino has finally returned to form after tearing an ACL last season. Molino is a bit of an X-factor, as he has the skillset of a natural 10 but primarily plays winger. He can either start or be brought on midway through the second half to provide fresh legs and a goal or two.
DT: Minnesota’s defense got an overhaul with the likes of Ike Opara and Vito Mannone joining this offseason. How much better has the defense been this season and how important will it be for them to keep the Dynamo off the scoresheet in order to get a result?
EPL: Vito Mannone has been a solid keeper for the Loons this season, and he is definitely an upgrade on Bobby Shuttleworth for the most part. However, there have been moments of random blunders that are a bit baffling. We hope that those were just early season jitters and he is 100% focused now. Ike Opara and Romain Metanire have been incredible additions to the Loons defense this season. Metanire has been named to the TOTW or TOTW bench 4 times this season; he’s been absolutely outstanding. The Malagasy fullback has no doubt been the best addition of the offseason. Ike Opara has brought leadership and stability to the backline – he’s the CB we’ve needed over the past few years. He’s capable of reading the game better than any other rostered CB while also providing the leadership role of the job. The real question is who will start next to him however, Michael Boxall started the season there but recently was benched due to poor form. MN native Brent Kallman was inserted into his place and he did a fine job in the spot. From here on out, it’s a coaches decision. In my opinion, they’re both capable of starting alongside Opara.
To keep the Dynamo off the scoresheet will be a tough task. Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis are two of MLS’s best. It’s as a simple as that honestly – if the Loons can get an early goal while also keeping those two at bay, there could be three points in sight.
I’d like to thank Jacob for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read my responses to Jacob’s questions about the Dynamo at E Pluribus Loonum.