Minnesota United send message vs. Austin FC: “This team is capable of beating anybody”
In a marquee matchup of Western Conference heavyweights, Minnesota United FC sent a message to the rest of Major League Soccer following a 2-1 win over Austin FC at Allianz Field Saturday night.
Franco Fragapane scored the decisive goal in the 62nd minute after Emanuel Reynoso and Sebastian Driussi exchanged first-half penalty kicks, with the Austin FC star’s equalizer his league-leading 18th of the season.
Considering the opponent in Austin FC, who are second in the West and were 7W-1L-3D in their last 11 matches, and the time of the season, it was a massive three points for the Loons.
“I think it sends a message to everybody else a little bit,” Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath said in his television walk-off interview. “More importantly, it takes us another three points closer to making the playoffs and hopefully, because that has to be the aim now, is trying to seal one of those top four positions so we get home-field advantage.”
Minnesota are in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with eight matches remaining in their regular season. They’ve rocketed up the table thanks to securing 23 out of a possible 30 points from their last 10 matches following a 2-1 defeat at Inter Miami CF on June 25.
Holding a game in hand on third-place FC Dallas, and only one point back of Nico Estevez’s team, Minnesota could soon leapfrog them as well. Dallas play Sunday night at Nashville SC, potentially widening that gap.
“I’m delighted for the guys,” Heath said in his post-match press conference. “When I look at where we were after that Miami game, I’m not sure too many people would have thought that we’d have won seven, drawn two and lost one with the quality of opposition that we played in that time.”
Heath has long said his team didn’t get enough respect across the league. And while he said that remains true, he also doesn’t think Minnesota need to seek it out.
“We don’t need any respect. We know what we are. And when we play well here we can play against anybody. I know that, I think most people do,” the Englishman said. “I think if you ask most coaches in the league, coming into this arena, with our atmosphere, it’s a difficult place to play. So I’m not surprised that we’ve won the game. I knew it was gonna be tough, but this team is capable of beating anybody – and I mean anybody.”
Heath said the win over Austin was a “good barometer” of where his team is at this moment of the season. But form, and momentum, are fickle. And the manager knows a Week 27 matchup at home against Houston Dynamo FC next Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter) cannot be overlooked.
“We’re in a really good run. And now the biggest game of the season is next week, because it will be,” Heath said. “We have to make sure we’re ready and prepared for that.”
WATCH: Minnesota United send message with 2-1 win over Austin FC