On Saturday night, the San Jose Earthquakes face Minnesota United with a place in the MLS is Back semi-finals on the line. Here are three things to watch for.
The battle of the overlooked. On Saturday night, the San Jose Earthquakes face Minnesota United in the third of four MLS is Back quarter-finals between two teams that have been consistently underrated and disrespected.
Neither San Jose or Minnesota have lost in the competition thus far, with the Earthquakes winning all but one of their matches and scoring 11 goals across their last three games. Minnesota, meanwhile, have been outperformed in almost every match, and yet they have a wonderful resilience to upset the odds, just as manager Adrian Heath likes it.
With two far more capable teams than their reputation suggests facing against one another, here are three things to watch for.
3. Dealing with crucial absences
According to Adrian Heath, both Kevin Molino and Romain Metanire will be gameday decisions ahead of this match. Neither trained on Thursday last week as Metanire was withdrawn in the 72nd minute of the penalty shootout win over the Columbus Crew due to a ‘slight problem’. Molino, meanwhile, has not played since being withdrawn against Real Salt Lake at half-time.
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Metanire was Minnesota United’s lone All-Star nominee last season and is one of the best right-backs in the league. Molino scored Minnesota’s 97th-minute winner against Sporting KC and is viewed as one of the key attacking pieces in the Loons set up. He has now missed the last two games entirely.
Robin Lod came in for Molino in one of the wide positions, with Hassani Dotson joining Jan Gregus and Ozzie Alonso in a mobile, combative central midfield trio. At right-back, Marlon Hairston replaced Metanire and is in line to start again should he be needed. Missing one is problematic for Heath; having both on the sidelines would be a major blow.