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Loons in the MLS playoffs for the first time

Posted on 17 October 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Matthew Davis

Minnesota United clinched its first-ever MLS playoff spot Sept. 25 in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.
The Loons (15-8-10) have flown to new heights in their second year of MLS soccer, not only making the playoffs but finishing near the top of the Western Conference standings. They entered the final week of the regular season with a shot at the second seed for the playoffs when they faced Seattle.
Minnesota United kept pace in the west with a 1-1 tie for its home finale against the Los Angeles Galaxy Sept. 29 at Allianz Field in St. Paul. Michael Boxall tied the game for the Loons in the 75th minute.
It concluded the Loons’ first regular season at the new soccer stadium in St. Paul. They spent the past few years at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis before Allianz Field opened this season.
Minnesota United came into this season off an 11-20-3 record in 2018 for its MLS debut, moving over from the NASL. The Loons finished 10th in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs.
This year’s squad turned things around, winning its first two games out the gate in March. They picked up more momentum with four wins and two ties during April and May. The Loons then inched their way up the Western Conference standings over the summer.
Minnesota United’s Sept. 25 win over Sporting Kansas City turned a dream into reality for the second-year MLS franchise, officially sealing a playoff spot. The Loons trailed Sporting Kansas City for most of the game, but Ozzie Alonso tied things up in the 70th minute. Hassani Dotson scored the game-winner in the 90th minute.
The Loons came into the game going 2-1-1 in their past five MLS games during September. That included a scoreless tie with the Portland Timbers Sept. 22 and a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake Sept. 15.
Minnesota United opened the month big with a 2-0 win over Western Conference leader Los Angeles. The Loons then played a friendly at home against CF Pachuca Sept. 7 before falling 2-0 to Houston Sept. 11.
United’s season finale determined the Loons’ chances of hosting a playoff game in mid October. It will make for a busy month at Allianz Field, which will also host the University of St. Thomas football game against archrival St. John’s University Oct. 19.
It marks the second month in a row with a special sporting event at the field outside the Loons’ schedule. The U.S. women’s national team and women’s World Cup champions played an exhibition game there Sept. 3, beating Portugal 3-0.

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