Minnesota United FC head coach Adrian Heath has hailed the work of Robin Fraser at Colorado Rapids but is targeting three vital points in Sunday’s clash at Allianz Field.
The Loons occupy the final playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into the weekend’s action after winning just three of their last 10 matches.
Heath’s men have slipped down the division and the Englishman knows just how important it is for his side to get back on track by winning their game in hand.
“I think if we’ve got any designs on that fourth spot, this game in hand would take us up to five points and we’ve got the teams above us to play, everything to play for,” he said.
“Depending on whether you’re trying to get into the playoffs, or wanting to get a home game in the playoffs, every game and every point is crucial.
“But the Rapids have had an exceptional year. I think Robin has done an incredible job in a short period of time, having turned the roster over quite considerably.
“He’s brought a lot of players from within the league, traded for a lot of players. So it’s a big game for us, and it’s a big game for them as well on the back of their last few results.”
The Rapids are third in the West, despite losing 3-0 to Seattle Sounders last time out and winning just one of their last six matches.
A victory at Minnesota will keep Colorado within touching distance of conference-leading Seattle, however, and Fraser has full confidence in his side.
“You look at where we are in the table. We’re not there by luck,” he said. “We’re there because we’ve earned it. We just need to keep remembering that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Franco Fragapane
With this game coming during the international break, both sides are missing key players. Thankfully for Heath, he will have in-form attacker Fragapane available for selection. The 28-year-old has set up four of United’s last five goals and has seven assists for the season in total.
Colorado Rapids – William Yarbrough
The Rapids may have shipped three goals against the Sounders, but they had kept back-to-back clean sheets before then and shut out their opponents in half of their six September fixtures. Goalkeeper Yarbrough missed the Seattle loss through injury and Fraser will be eager to get him back fit in time for this trip to Allianz Field.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Rapids have won both of their matches against Minnesota this season, both in Commerce City. This is a fixture that has been dominated by the home side, with the hosts winning eight of the ten meetings (including playoffs), including the last six in a row.
– Minnesota have the best home defense in MLS, conceding just seven times in 13 matches at Allianz Field this season. Minnesota have kept a league-best eight clean sheets at home in 2021, including in each of their last three home matches.
– Colorado saw their second-longest unbeaten run in club history (12 games) end with a 3-0 loss in Seattle last week. The Rapids have conceded 14 goals in their five defeats this season, compared to just 13 goals in their other 22 games (W13 D9).
– Fragapane has averaged 0.68 assists per 90 minutes this season, second-most among players with at least 900 minutes played in MLS in 2021 (Carles Gil – 0.76).
– All three goals Colorado conceded against the Sounders came in the first half. The Rapids have allowed an MLS-low nine goals after half-time this season while Minnesota United are tied for the second fewest with 14.