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minnesota-orlando-get-together-after-close-openers

Minnesota, Orlando get together after close openers

Sports Xchange - Friday 9th March, 2018

A pair of teams that made things interesting in their respective season openers square off when Orlando City plays host to Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening.

Orlando City (0-0-1) escaped with a point thanks to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Saturday. Stefano Pinho scored the equalizer deep into stoppage time.

Minnesota (0-1-0) wraps up a coast-to-coast two-game swing to open the season looking to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on opening night.

The Loons trailed by three before Kevin Molino struck in the 81st and 85th minutes. Molino and San Jose's Danny Hoesen are the only players to score multiple goals during opening week.

"We know that they have some fantastic attacking players. Molino, obviously," Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said. "After last week (when) he scored two goals he's probably going to be on a confidence high."

Minnesota has dropped five of its last seven on the road, and coach Adrian Heath knows the upcoming schedule is difficult."

"We've got (six) of the first 10 games on the road. So, it's not going to be easy for us in the next few weeks," he told the Star Tribune.

Kreis replaced Heath in 2016 when he was fired after posting a 16-18-16 mark in MLS, adding another storyline to this matchup.

"It'll obviously be probably quite emotional on the day, because it will be the first time that I've been back when the stadium will be full," Heath told MLS.com. "You can't work at a club for 6 1/2 years, and put the hours of work that we did, and even have a hand in building the stadium, not to be looking forward to it. I want to go there and win, and that's the be all and end all."

Added Kreis: "It'll be another emotional affair for us to deal with against a team that has a little bit of a statement to make of their own after a loss last week."

The Lions' depth will be tested again. Victor "PC" Giro, Sacha Kljestan and Pierre da Silva are all suspended, while Dom Dwyer (quad), Josue Coleman (thigh), Oriol Rosell (fitness) and Dillon Powers (ankle) are nursing injuries.

The Loons will be without Abu Danladi (hamstring).

In their only previous meeting, Minnesota topped Orlando City, 1-0, on May 27 on a goal by Christian Ramirez and seven saves from Bobby Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth was in second in MLS with 116 saves last season -- two fewer than the Lions' Joe Bendik.

While Bendik is expected to get the call for the Lions, the Loons will likely counter with Matt Lampson. He collected eight shutouts in 24 games with Chicago last season.

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