Union-United FC Preview
Jim Curtin believes only a "complete performance" will do for Philadelphia Union if they are to come out on top in their cross-conference clash with Minnesota United FC.
The Union are up in third place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind a stuttering Nashville SC side in second, after putting together a six-match unbeaten run.
Minnesota's form has been far more inconsistent, with the Loons snapping a three-game winless run thanks to a 1-0 victory over Austin FC at the weekend.
But with their opponents clinging on to an MLS Cup Playoffs spot in the West, Curtin has acknowledged the importance of victory for both sides at Allianz Field on Wednesday.
"Both teams need points. It's a little different playing a Western Conference team, but the points are still valuable," Curtin said.
"There's a lot less detail in the scouting. You're not as tuned in to the Western Conference teams because the only time you meet them is in MLS Cup.
"But we have to find a way to put together a complete performance and brings back points to Philadelphia."
Minnesota went down 3-1 to Colorado Rapids in their most recent home match, but that was preceded by a three-game unbeaten run at Allianz Field without conceding.
After getting their playoffs push back on track with the win at Austin last time out, Adrian Heath's men have five games to see through if they are to secure a postseason spot.
"I thought we all, everybody, did their job against Austin," Heath said. "It was important. I said before the week started, we've got like six cup finals.
"We spoke about that to the players before the game. We've been talking about it for the last few weeks.
"It's already like playoff football. It was really good to get the win. Everybody did their job which I was really pleased with."
Minnesota United - Franco Fragapane
Fragapane scored the winning goal for Minnesota against Austin and has now been directly involved in six of his side's last seven goals.
That includes a run of five assists across that timeframe, with the 28-year-old second in MLS this season for assists per game at 0.57.
Philadelphia Union - Kai Wagner
Kacper Przybylko is Philadelphia's biggest attacking threat, the forward boasting 10 goals this season, but Union's defenders have also chipped in with some important goals.
Wagner found the net for the third time this term from a free-kick against CF Montreal at the weekend and had more touches (67) than any Union player in that game.
- The Union have never lost to Minnesota (W2 D1), winning each of the last two matches. Philadelphia have scored a total of eight goals in the last two meetings (5-1, 3-2), equalling the most they have scored over two matches against any opponent in the club's MLS history.
- Minnesota have kept clean sheets in four of their last six matches (W3 D1) but have allowed three goals in each of the other two matches in that span (L2).
- The Loons have allowed 24 goals in 10 losses this season and just 11 goals in their other 19 matches (W11 D8).
- Philadelphia's unbeaten run extended to six games (W4 D2) with a 2-2 draw at CF Montreal on Saturday, though they conceded an equaliser at 94:30, the latest result-changing goal the Union have allowed since a Cristian Maidana winner for Houston at 94:48 in July 2016.
- Wagner's goal against Montreal was the third direct free-kick goal scored by the Union this season. Only Columbus Crew (five) has scored more direct free-kick goals than Philadelphia in 2021.
Updated October 19, 2021