Temperatures will be hovering around the freezing point in the Twin Cities on Saturday when Minnesota United FC will search for their first ever playoff victory against a Colorado Rapids side that is in the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Minnesota United made its MLS debut in 2017 and reached the playoffs for the first time last season, falling in a home game 2-1 to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
With midseason additions in midfielder Emanuel Reynoso from Boca Juniors in Argentina and veteran forward Kei Kamara, the Loons finished in fourth place in the Western Conference at 9-5-7 with 34 points and 1.62 points per game. Kamara was traded from the Rapids on Sept. 18.
Minnesota United enters the Round 1 game unbeaten over their last eight contests, winning three of the last four, including a convincing 3-0 victory on Decision Day against another playoff-bound team in FC Dallas. The Loons were 5-1-3 at home this season.
Reynoso had a goal and seven assists in 13 games, Kamara had a goal in seven games for Minnesota United, while midfielder Kevin Molino led the team with nine goals and four assists.
"Watching this team grow, it's kind of where we expect to be: Hosting playoff games and, obviously that was our goal last year, we got there and I think we still left a bit on the table," Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall said. "... It can't just be about making the playoffs, it's about making a deep run and I don't think MLS Cup is unrealistic for us."
The Rapids finished the regular season 8-6-4 with 28 points and 1.56 points per game. They would have been the No. 8 team from the Western Conference if total points determined playoff eligibility, but they benefited from MLS' decision to use points per game this season and became the No. 5 seed.
Colorado played just 18 games because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the team and were the only team that did not play at least 21 contests. The Rapids will enter on a three-game winning streak, earning a 2-1 Decision Day victory over the Houston Dynamo.
Midfielder Cole Bassett and forward Jonathan Lewis tied for the team lead with five goals each. The Rapids were 5-3-1 in road games.
"In a year with so many ups and downs, really the thing we talk about most on this team is just getting on with it," head coach Robin Fraser said. "We didn't have many home games down the stretch, and no one cried about it. At the end of the day, that mentality has served us well and will continue to serve us well."
--Field Level Media