Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath believes the race for the playoffs in the Western Conference will go to the wire, as his team prepare to take on the Colorado Rapids.
Both teams come into Saturday’s clash on the back of frantic matches. Minnesota drew 4-4 with the Portland Timbers, while the Rapids came out on top in a nine-goal thriller, beating the New York Red Bulls 5-4.
While Minnesota are sitting pretty in third place in the West, the Rapids are down in 10th, but still have a shot at qualifying for the playoffs.
Heath is anticipating it will go down to the wire.
“I feel as though it will go to the last game like it did last year,” he said.
“We had that crazy game at the [LA] Galaxy where we could have gotten fourth and we could have gone out the playoffs completely. I don’t expect anything different. And every game, certainly against a Western Conference team, it becomes really, really important.”
Colorado coach Robin Fraser, meanwhile, said after his team’s brilliant victory: “I’m so proud of the group.
“We were down two-nil within 10 minutes on the road. To show the character that we did to come back… the team was unfazed and just kept fighting. This is the group that I’ve known for a number of years.
“The belief tonight was incredible. When you’re dialled in and you know that you’re doing certain things well and you know you’re fully engaged, the scoreline didn’t affect us.
“It was a really quietly confident performance… It felt like this was a group that was laser focused on what their end objective was, and regardless of the score they weren’t going to deviate from it. That’s an important characteristic of a successful team.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Colorado Rapids – Diego Rubio
Diego Rubio scored once and assisted two other goals in the Rapids’ win over the Red Bulls on Thursday. It was the second time in Rubio’s MLS career that he contributed to three goals in a match (two goals, one assist vs. Real Salt Lake in 2020) and the first time he has had multiple assists.
Minnesota United – Luis Amarilla
After netting twice against Portland, Amarilla now has five goals in his last eight league games after scoring just twice in his previous 19 MLS appearances.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Rapids have never lost a home match against Minnesota United (W4 D1), winning each of the last four after a 2-2 draw in the Loons first visit in March 2017.
– The four straight home wins against Minnesota equals the Rapids longest active home winning streak against a single foe (FC Dallas).
– The Rapids came from 3-1 down to beat the Red Bulls, 5-4, for their first road win of the season on Tuesday.
– The five goals equalled the most ever scored in an away match against the Red Bulls, the seventh time that’s been achieved and the second time Colorado has achieved it (also 2008).
– Minnesota’s 4-4 draw with Portland on Saturday equalled the highest scoring game in the club’s MLS history. The draw also extended Minnesota’s unbeaten run to seven games (W5 D2), one shy of the longest regular season unbeaten run in club history (eight straight in September-November 2020).