MLS: Scorching Loons head to Salt Lake seeking more momentum

The red-hot Minnesota United have a chance to make up more ground in the Western Conference standings when they travel to Sandy, Utah, to face Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

The Loons (13-9-5, 44 points) have won three consecutive matches by identical 2-1 scores heading into the Beehive State. Two victories came against second place Austin and fifth place Nashville, allowing Minnesota to better solidify its own playoff spot.

Still, there are eight teams below the Loons within seven or fewer points.

“I think between now and the end of the season, every game is huge,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “I’ve tried to be clever and work out everybody’s fixtures out and it’s virtually impossible to decide.”

Bakaye Dibassy will be sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering a ruptured quadricep tendon in his right leg in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Houston. With Dibassy out, Brent Kallman will be elevated to a starting center back spot as Minnesota enters a tougher part of its schedule.

Offensively, the Loons are in good shape. Emanuel Reynoso has been a game-changer through 25 matches, with 10 goals and nine assists. Luis Amarilla is right there with him in terms of productivity, tallying nine goals and five dimes in 26 games.

Stopping that potent offense will offer a formidable challenge to Salt Lake. The Utah club has struggled to find its winning form of late, claiming three points once over its last six matches (1-2-3).

RSL (10-8-9, 39 points) is winless in its last three home matches (0-2-1). A turning point may have happened with a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas last weekend. Salt Lake rallied from a 1-0 deficit when Anderson Julio headed home the equalizer in the 69th minute.

Julio and the other subs gave Salt Lake a much-needed energy boost after it conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes for the 10th time this season.

“I’m super satisfied with the point, but I felt like we were really close to taking home three tonight,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “Our performance was really good.”

Minnesota beat Salt Lake 3-2 when the two clubs met in Saint Paul, Minn., on July 3. Reynoso had a brace before halftime to help the Loons stake out a 3-0 lead by the 61st minute.

–Field Level Media

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