New York City Football Club are on the road this weekend as they face Minnesota United at Allianz Arena.
Hi Andy, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering Minnesota United?
In some capacity for the St. Paul Pioneer Press since the club was rebranded to the Loons in 2013 and full-time since they made the transition to MLS in 2017.
What would you describe as your highlight during that time?
There were a lot of milestones -- expansion season, opening Allianz Field, MLS Cup Playoff games -- but if I had to pick, it would be the 2019 U.S. Open Cup final in Atlanta. It was a great atmosphere to be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium with thousands of MNUFC supporters and a trophy on the line. Minnesota fell short, 2-1, but it was rocking when Robin Lod's goal got the Loons back in the game early in the second half.
Minnesota currently sit 8th in the Western Conference. How would you evaluate their start to the season?
Disappointing. The Loons have aspirations to finish in the top four in the West and get a home playoff game. Minnesota’s home form has been a considerable anchor on their rise. They have dropped more points through seven home games this season than in any prior year.
If you were to identify Minnesota's dangerman who would that be?
Forward Robin Lod has five goals in his last six MLS games and broke the club record for most career regular-season goals (22) in the 2-1 win at FC Dallas on Sunday. He is the finisher and Emanuel Reynoso is the facilitator.
What do you think will be the decisive factor in Saturday's game?
Minnesota will be without two key pieces of its spine: center back Michael Boxall and midfielder Kervin Arriaga -- both are suspended for yelllow-card accumulation. This will create openings for NYCFC’s attackers to penetrate on goal. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, however, has been one of the best in MLS this season.
And finally for any of our fans that may be in Minnesota for the game, are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?
For a dive bar vibe, check out the Black Hart of St. Paul. It’s a catered soccer bar within walking distance of Allianz Field. For a fancier brewery, head to Surly. It’s also close to the stadium, but don’t drink too many Furious or you might get lost.