SAINT PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota United will be playing for a championship this week. On Tuesday, the Loons will face Atlanta United in Atlanta for the US Open Cup.
Atlanta is, right now, the best team in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not that much better than Minnesota.
The Loons have come a long way and are laying a strong foundation.
If you look at Minnesota United’s roster, the club is taking big steps toward building for the future.
“Yeah, it’s a little bit of everything,” United’s head coach Adrian Heath said. “We’ve got a good mixture at the moment, good experience with the likes of Romain, Ike, Boxy and Darwin, and then you’ve got the rookies if you like. And now, you put Thomas Chacon in that… we’ve got a good balance in this moment in time. It’s still a work in progress.”
The club is in a good spot: second place in the western conference– but they’re not content without a trophy.
“Based on how the first two years in MLS went– and to have said you’re going to win a trophy in your third year, regardless of what that trophy would have been– I think everyone would have jumped for joy and taken it,” player Ike Opara said. “So I think that’s the first step into building a consistently competitive franchise, is being able to challenge for trophies, and we’ve got our first opportunity on Tuesday.”
Between playing for the U.S. Open Cup and signing young talent, Minnesota United is setting itself up to go the next level.
“I think the beautiful thing about it is we’ve got a lot of guys who have been in the final at some level in their career,” Opara said. “That shouldn’t play too much of a factor in being a final.”
Winning the US Open Cup means the Loons will bring home their first trophy since joining Major League Soccer. There’s just a little pressure there.
“We have a chance to preserve our names in stone and get this organization its first trophy in the MLS,” Opara said. “And so that’s important.”