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MLS Cup Playoffs: Loons drawing on their success in Dallas in May

Dallas, which earned the third seed in the West, has one of the league’s most dangerous goal-scorers in MLS in Jesus Ferreira. The U.S. men’s national team striker had 18 goals in the league this season —the fourth-highest total in MLS in 2022.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United midfielder Robin Lod dribbles against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 9, 2022, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- Going into the MLS Cup Playoffs first-round match against FC Dallas on Monday, Minnesota United points to the regular-season success the club had there in May.

FC Dallas had the second-best home record in the Western Conference this season (10-3-4), but the Loons produced a 2-1 victory at Toyota Stadium on May 22. It was part of a MNUFC season-record six victories away from St. Paul this season.

“It gives us hope that we already did it and there is nothing that can stop us from doing it twice,” midfielder Robin Lod said this week.

Dallas returned the favor with a 3-0 win at Allianz Field on Sept. 3. Manager Adrian Heath believes MNUFC was the better team that game outside of “five minutes of madness” when the Loons gave up all three goals.

“At the same time, playing them at home and them beating us 3-0 gives us a good lesson that we can’t underestimate them,” Lod said. “We have to be for sure as players 100 percent giving our best to beat them.”

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Dallas, which earned the third seed in the West, has one of the league’s most dangerous goal-scorers in MLS in Jesus Ferreira. The U.S. men’s national team striker had 18 goals in the league this season —the fourth-highest total in MLS in 2022.

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Heath explained what’s important with Ferreira.

“Concentration levels have to be good; he’s very smart and has got more pace than people think; he is sneaky quick,” Heath said Saturday. “But more importantly when the ball goes wide you have to be fully focused on where he is because he makes good runs, good-timed runs.”

Ferreira’s goal against Minnesota in September came in that type of situation: a glancing header off a cross into the 6-yard box.

Not to be overlooked was how Dallas (14-9-11) conceded 37 goals this season, second-fewest goals in MLS, and scored 48. Sixth seed Minnesota (14-14-6) also scored 48 but allowed 51.

The Loons might receive a boost in their attack with winger Bongi Hlongwane returning to training this week. After the South African missed the last five games of the season with a knee injury, he will be available for selection Monday.

For the 8:38 p.m. kickoff Monday, MNUFC will have roughly 175 traveling supporters in Texas, thanks to a Sun Country Airlines charter flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“The fact that we might have a couple hundred people there will make it enjoyable for everybody,” Heath said. “Make the spectacle better.”

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