Loons might see a third snowy season opener on Saturday
Forecasts call for approximately 3 inches of snow into Friday at Allianz Field, with 1 to 2 more inches expected Saturday evening. The Loons are set to play New York Red Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United might have a third home opener affected by a spring snowstorm since the club started MLS play in 2017.
Forecasts call for approximately 3 inches of snow Thursday into Friday at Allianz Field, with 1 to 2 more inches expected Saturday evening in St. Paul. The Loons are set to play New York Red Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Loons’ first game in Minnesota was played in heavy snowfall at then-TCF Bank Stadium on March 12, 2017. Then MNUFC’s inaugural game at Allianz Field in 2019 was played after a substantial snowfall in the days leading up to April 13, but it was cleared from the pitch in time for the match.
Manager Adrian Heath and players Robin Lod and Dayne St. Clair on Tuesday shrugged off the forecast, saying essentially that both teams will have to play in the conditions. Players are likely to wear longer stud cleats to guard against what might be a slippery grass surface aided by stitched-in synthetic fibers.
New fullback Zarek Valentin said he welcomes the white stuff.
“I love it,” said the recent Houston Dynamo defender. “I’m a Northeastern guy, from (Pennsylvania). For me, this is normal. This is what I grew up in and what I love. For me, I’d rather have the colder temperatures than the warmer temperatures.”
Lod is from Finland but he said “no” this is not his kind of weather. But Lod said he won’t wear extra layers to combat the cold on Saturday, when its forecast to be 32 degrees at kickoff.
St. Clair shared he has worn latex gloves underneath his padded goalkeeper gloves when it’s been chilly.
Closer on Jeong Sang-bin
Heath said he believes MNUFC “is a lot further down” the road toward acquiring South Korean attacker Jeong Sang-bin from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League.
“He is just one of a few players that we’ve been actively looking at over the last few months,” Heath said Tuesday. “(There’s) not really an awful lot I can say until he’s actually signed and he’s here.”
If the Loons get Jeong, 20, over the line, he would be expected to take an Under-22 Initiative spot. MNUFC currently has one U22 spot occupied by Bongi Hlongwane and two vacant.
The Red Bulls (0-1-1) are scoreless in two matches, 0-0 against Nashville on Saturday and a 1-0 loss to Orlando in the season opener. Winger Lewis Morgan scored a team-high 14 goals last season but has subbed out of both games with an undisclosed injury.
MNUFC beat FC Dallas 1-0 in the season opener Feb. 25 and were off in Week 2. The Loons lost 1-0 to NYRB in preseason on Feb. 11. In their 2022 matchup, St. Clair was tremendous with seven saves in a 1-0 win in Harrison, N.J.
Captain Wil Trapp has a rib injury, which might keep him out of the home opener. … Luis Amarilla returned from Paraguay last weekend, where he was obtaining his U.S. green card. The striker participated in training on Tuesday. … Hlongwane missed Tuesday’s practice with a “slight strain” in his hamstring, per Heath. … After six seasons, Kyndra de St. Aubin is no longer the Loons’ primary TV color commentator, but she will be back at Allianz Field to call Saturday’s game on Apple TV + MLS Season Pass with Kevin Egan. … Heath said there was no update on Emanuel Reynoso, the Loons’ star midfielder suspended by MLS for remaining in Argentina and not joining MNUFC.
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