Minnesota United FC will put a four-game unbeaten streak on the line Saturday night when it travels to FC Cincinnati.
The Loons (6-5-6, 24 points) enter the contest in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference with FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes.
They can leapfrog LosAngeles FC (7-7-4, 25 points), which hosts El Trafico rival LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon and move into fourth place with a victory. The top four finishers in each conference host the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs.
With Decision Day on Nov. 8 creeping up, it is also a key game for FC Cincinnati (4-11-4, 16 points). The Orange and Blue, who enter off a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Sunday, have lost five of their last six matches. The club enters the weekend four points behind the 10th-place Chicago Fire (5-8-5, 20 points) for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Minnesota United enters off a 2-2 home draw with Houston on Sunday night, blowing a 2-0 lead in the second half and getting outshot 15-4 in the process.
It was the first game in 12 days for the Loons, who had to postpone games at FC Dallas and at home against Chicago after playmaking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and defender Jose Aja tested positive for COVID-19. Both could return Saturday. A third unnamed player had what turned out to be a false positive just prior to the Chicago contest.
Minnesota United, 1-0-3 over their last four contests, only had two full team practices over a two-week span due to the illnesses and appeared to run out of gas in the second half against Houston. The Dynamo also hit a pair of crossbars in the second half which was spent most of the time around the Loons' 18-yard box.
"Even in the first half, we looked like we were a team that hadn't done an awful lot in two weeks, didn't look sharp, didn't look focused," Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. "At the end, I was quite thankful that we got a point, to be honest."
This is the second meeting between the two teams. Minnesota won the first one, 2-0, on Oct. 3 in Saint Paul, Minn., as Kei Kamara scored in the 16th minute on a penalty kick and Kevin Molino added an insurance goal in the 69th minute.
"I thought we had a really good chance to win it," Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya said. "Obviously, we had a PK that went their way quick that changed the whole game. I thought we created a lot of chances against Minnesota last time. If we bring the same energy, we're going to have a good chance to get a good result."
--Field Level Media