Minnesota United (10-9-5, 35 points, 4th place Western Conference) vs. Nashville SC (8-8-9, 33 points, 6th place Western Conference)
When: Sunday, August 14, 9 p.m.
Where: GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tenn.
Point Spread: Minnesota +0.5/Nashville -0.5
Moneyline: Minnesota +285/Nashville -105/Draw +255
Total: Over 2.5 (-130)/Under 2.5 (+110)
Last Time Out:
Minnesota lost 4-3 to Colorado; Nashville lost 4-3 to Toronto.
The sides drew 1-1 on March 5 at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn.
About the Matchup:
With ten matches to go in the regular season, it’s now positioning time in the Western Conference. Just four points separate third-place Dallas from eighth-place (and out of the playoffs) Seattle, and Nashville and Minnesota find themselves right in the midst of this logjam. Neither team is likely to catch up to Los Angeles FC or Austin, but third place is still a very attainable goal for a pair of teams that have basically canceled each other out when they’ve matched up with each other.
After getting off to a solid start to the season, Nashville has reverted to last year’s role as the masters of the draw. The Six Strings haven’t exactly made GEODIS Park a fortress either since it opened; they’ve only managed one win at home in their past eight matches in their building. That’s opened the door for teams like Minnesota to both catch and pass them, and the Loons now sit two points ahead of NSC after ripping off five wins in a seven-match unbeaten streak before finally falling to Colorado. If they can get another result here, they’ll catch up to Dallas and be in a prime position to control their path toward the No. 3 seed.
As long as the Loons have Emanuel Reynoso on the pitch, they have the chance to be dangerous. Reynoso suffered an injury in a friendly with English side Everton, but Minnesota’s leading scorer returned to action in the draw with Portland and played in the MLS All-Star Game, so it appears that he’s back to full strength. With nine goals on the season, he’s the Loons’ top option for scoring goals.
However, he’s far from a one-man team these days. Luis Amarilla has really come on strong this season, scoring three goals in Minnesota’s past two matches and eight on the year. The issue now for Minnesota is the back four, which has suddenly become shaky after what had been several solid performances. Giving up eight goals in two matches is a significant aberration for a side that had been giving up just over one goal per match, and the Loons have to get that fixed if they’re going to continue their upward trajectory.