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Know Your Opponent: Minnesota United FC

The Houston Dynamo face off against Minnesota United FC for the first time ever this Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 p.m. CT | TICKETS). Minnesota has had a tough start to their expansion season, giving up 22 goals through six games (1-4-1 record). Last week, they dropped a 2-0 result on the road at FC Dallas.

Minnesota has a historically poor defense to start their MLS tenure, what have been the problems for them?

I think this is part and parcel of being an expansion franchise, and one that has gone about it very differently than Atlanta, for example. They have transitioned with not much change on and off the field from the NASL, so there is a learning curve for sure.

They have conceded a lot of goals but I would take a snapshot of the last two games of how improved they are defensively. Stability has come in the form of two recent acquisitions in Marc Burch and Sam Cronin from Colorado. Minnesota was strong against FC Dallas last week, and ran into some great goalkeeping from Jesse Gonzalez or the result might have been different.

They do have some offensive weapons still, such as Christian Ramirez and Kevin Molino. How are these guys able to generate chances?

First off, we need to add Johan Venegas to that trio. Venegas scored against the U.S. in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win for Costa Rica that ultimately cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. All three possess dangerous qualities through opportunism, ethic, pace, and individual skill sets. Ramirez has made the jump from NASL and has 4 goals to rank amongst the top goal scorers in the league.

How do you see this playing out tactically?

That is the real question heading into this. How will Minnesota play against the Dynamo, and I think the answer is pretty clear. They will not want to open the game up against the Dynamo at home, where the Orange have scored 9 goals. Expect them to be compact to continue on the theme of not conceding and having a solid team shape.

The danger is defending too deep and allowing the Dynamo to get their pressing game going. If they find the right balance and restraining line, it will force the Dynamo to have to break them down in other ways. The game's first goal will be vital! Very much looking forward to this match and seeing how the Dynamo respond after the road loss.