Adrian Heath will meet some familiar faces on Thursday when his Minnesota United team faces off against his old team, Orlando City. On the other hand, Oscar Pareja will look to continue his impressive run as Orlando City manager and prove Heath that Orlando can win MLS silverware. Neither Orlando nor Minnesota have won a trophy as MLS clubs in their short history in the league. The MLS is Back Tournament could be their first.
Orlando City SC vs Minnesota United FC: Match Preview
The Loons and Lions have played three times before with Minnesota winning two and drawing one. Pareja can change the course of the club’s history with his first win in the series that will give them a spot in the final.
Orlando City SC
Orlando City shocked the North American soccer community after knocking out tournament favorites Los Angeles FC in penalties, which secured them a spot in the MLS is Back Tournament semifinals. But before that, the Lions enjoyed a great run of games finishing at the top of Group A over Inter Miami, New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union, and defeating the Montreal Impact in the round of 16. Portuguese defender Joao Moutinho’s late equalizer against LAFC allowed Orlando City to decide their fate from the penalty spot, and ex-Manchester United star Nani converted the game-winning penalty to send the Central Florida team to the semifinal semifinals.
Pareja has been the man of the tournament for Orlando. With a record of 4W-2L-2D, the Colombian manager looks to have an understanding and backing of his squad. The players have spoken out about his impact in the locker room and on the sideline, giving him credit for the club’s quick turnaround since his arrival.
Orlando suffered a couple of injuries on their road to the semis. Forward Dom Dwyer suffered a knee injury during group stages that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the tournament. Moreover, forward Chris Mueller, who scored three goals in five games, was only able to play in the first half against LAFC picking up a shoulder injury. However, full-backs Moutinho and Ruan will be the center of attention. Both outside defenders cover a lot of ground in their respective sides and can help the team both going forward and on defense.
Injuries: Dom Dwyer (OUT, knew), Chris Mueller (Questionable, shoulder)
Minnesota United FC
Heath and the Loons cannot consider themselves underdogs anymore. That mentality changed after beating the then-undefeated Columbus Crew and highly rated San Jose Earthquakes in order to secure a semifinal spot. Also, Minnesota made it out of Group C, which housed the Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.
Like Orlando, Minnesota lived a couple of shocking moments throughout this tournament. The Loons scored two goals in added time against Sporting Kansas City to win the game 2-1. Furthermore, they crushed the Quakes 4-1 in their quarterfinal fixture. There is no question about Heath’s ability to adapt to different opposition and scenarios during a game.
g a m e d a y— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 6, 2020
Loons vs. Lions pic.twitter.com/7JNvZ3LYcU
Minnesota have not missed the MLS 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Ike Opara, having only conceded five goals in six matches. Cuban defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso has helped the backline playing a deeper role and at times between center backs. Twenty-three-year-old Hassani Dotson will most likely fill in for right-back Romain Metanire, who is listed as questionable ahead of the semifinal. Dotson is Minnesota’s swiss army knife, having played as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder and on defense. But all eyes are on Paraguayan forward Luis Amarilla, who looked lively against San Jose.
Injuries: Ike Opara (OUT, undisclosed), Thomas Chacon (Questionable, left lower leg), Romain Metanire (Questionable, left hamstring)
Orlando City SC vs Minnesota United FC: Broadcast Information
Match details, result and original broadcast info
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