MIN: 9-5-7 (3-4-2 on the road)
SEA: 11-5-6 (7-1-2 at home)
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (Dec. 6, 2020) – Wins don’t come much bigger than Minnesota United’s 3-0 controlled demolition of Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Thursday night. The Loons stretched their unbeaten streak to 10 games, Kevin Molino had his second multi-goal game of the playoffs, Emanuel Reynoso had his second three-assist game in a row, and Minnesota got a win at Kansas City for the first time in seven attempts. While the team needed early heroics from defender Michael Boxall (who headed the ball off the line in the second minute) and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (who stood on his head several times in the opening minutes), once the front four got hold of the ball, it was game over. MNUFC will need the same level of effort and execution against the Seattle Sounders, who are now the presumptive favorite in the playoffs. Much as it was with SKC, MNUFC have never gotten a point off of the Sounders at home, so they’ll be looking to keep bucking the trends on Monday night.
ADRIAN HEATH ON FACING SEATTLE’S FRONT FOUR
“It’s difficult. And, everybody knows that. Concentration is huge. Especially preventative marking when you’re attacking. We know that in a split second [Nicolas] Lodeiro can turn and pick a pass. We’ve just got to be really, really concentrated for the full 90 minutes because the minute you drop your guard for a second, they normally punish you. So we know it’s going to be tough. It’s traditionally one of the hardest places to go and get a result. And I don’t expect it to be anything different with what’s at stake, a chance of going to the MLS Cup. So, yep, it’s going to be tough, but we’ve proved the last few weeks that we’re playing well. And if we don’t beat ourselves early on, I think we give ourselves a chance.”
OSVALDO ALONSO ON THE PLAYOFF MENTALITY
[SPA] “Si la mentalidad cambia un poco. Sabemos que los partidos playoffs es de vida o muerte. Si pierdes, vas para la casa y ahí no se puede perder, quedan siempre los extras. En temporada regular, tienes partidos que puedes estar mal, pierdes, pero tienes más partidos que te pueden dar resultados, que te pueden seguir avanzando. Aquí en la postemporada, pierdes el partido y a casa. Entonces la mentalidad cambia un poquito, sabemos que el equipo está mejorando cada día. Muy contento por este paso que dimos, que llegar a la final de la conferencia.”
[ENG] “Yeah, the mentality does shift a little bit. We know that playoff games are life or death. If you lose, you go home and we can’t lose here, there’s always extra time to think about. In the regular season, you have games where you can play poorly and lose but there are always more games where you can find results to keep advancing. Here in the postseason, if you lose a game, you go home. So the mentality is different, we know this team is getting better every day. I’m pleased with what we gave in the last match, to get to the conference final.
Even before top seeds like Sporting KC, the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC were eliminated, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone doubting that the Sounders could repeat as MLS champs this year. A dynamic attack helmed by perennial MVP candidate Nico Lodeiro and spearheaded by Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris led them to the third-most goals in the Western Conference while allowing the fewest goals. Having lost only once all year at the recently re-christened Lumen Field, Seattle comes into the game as confident in their ability to win beautifully (as they did against LAFC in a 3-1 victory) as they are in their ability to scrap it up and win ugly (as they did in their 1-0 result against FC Dallas). Add in the drama of MNUFC captain Osvaldo Alonso returning to face the team he led for 10 years and you have the recipe for an epic clash between two strong sides in the middle of hot streaks.