KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In what has been a unique 2020 season for all Major League Soccer clubs, Minnesota United’s time away from the pitch is unrivaled.
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis, the club spoke out. Defender Ike Opara became vocal on social media, even joining the newly formed Black Players Coalition of MLS, created with the goal of bridging the racial equality gap in the league and nationwide.
Amid the ongoing injustices highlighted in their own backyard, MNUFC will return to action in Orlando starting July 8. The Group D draw for United places the Loons in the thick of what some are considering the Group of Death.
Anchoring the team on the field, is its defense behind architect and inaugural manager Adrian Heath.
“Their first couple years in the MLS, they were one of the most scored-on teams in the league,” said Jeremy Rushing, MNUFC Contributor for ZoneCoverage.com.
Rushing said that coming into the 2019 season, the team "completely revamped" its back line.
Minnesota surrendered 23 fewer goals from 2018 to 2019.
The schedule for the #MLSisBack tournament is grueling, with each team playing three matches minimum and seven maximum over the course of 16 days.
Questions remain around each clubs’ conditioning levels on the heels of a three-month suspension.
“These squads are not going to be at their best fit,” Rushing said.
MLS said the number of substitutes allowed will be raised from three to five for the tournament.
“If you can bring in quality guys at the end of a match who can hit a counter attack and get a late goal, that could be the difference in a lot of these games,” Rushing said.