Minnesota United enters early 4-game home stand 2-0, atop the West

Life is good at the top. Just ask Minnesota United, which heads into its 2020 debut at Allianz Field 2-0.

They’ve earned a full six points through two matches, with regulation wins over Portland and San Jose, as the Loons prepare to host the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. They’re taking the pitch nearly a month earlier than they did last year, and it’s the first of four straight home games.

The team held training Tuesday morning at Allianz Field before this weekend's home opener.

“We’ve had a great start with the two away wins so it sets us up nicely. This was a formidable place for us last year, it was a big advantage to us we’re hoping to do the same. We’ve had a good start and it will be nice to be back home,” Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said.

The Loons have scored an MLS-leading eight goals through two games and are plus-5 in goal differential early in the season. They’ve got goals from five different players through two games, and three different players have scored at least twice.

Ike Opara was named Monday the MLS Player of the Week after scoring twice in Minnesota United’s 5-2 win at San Jose over the weekend. It’s his second career multi-goal game after scoring a pair of goals last June against FC Cincinnati.

He’s the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, and his first goal of the season came on a header in the 13th minute at San Jose after a corner kick from Jan Gregus. His second goal came off another header in the 71st minute.

Midfielder Ethan Finlay, who scored in the team’s opening 3-1 win at Portland, likes the offensive balance the Loons have early in the season.

“What I’ve been most happy about over the last couple of games is that we’ve gotten multiple guys on the score sheet. To put some complete performances out there, two good games, was extremely important,” Finlay said.

Perhaps just as important is Minnesota United’s early four-game home stand. The Loons face the New York Red Bulls, Montreal Impact, San Jose and the L.A. Galaxy in the span of almost a month.

It’s an early opportunity to create some separation in the Western Conference, and it’s an opportunity the team is not taking lightly. The Loons lost just one regular season game at Allianz Field last year before losing their inaugural home playoff game.

“As much as our home field advantage is big for us, we also can’t just expect that we’re going to get results without the preparation and doing the work. Just being at home doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed three points so we’ve to make sure that we don’t fall into that trap of just because we’ve had success here, we’re going to automatically get three points. It doesn’t work that way,” Opara said.

Minnesota United’s front office, like any pro franchise, made tough decisions in the offseason. Key names departed, other pieces were added. We may not know yet who the standout player is, but they added depth that should help them take the next step this season.

“We won’t be the most talented team week in and week out, but I think as a collective we can beat anybody in this league and that’s what we have to do,” Finlay said. “We have to play as a group, as a unit and when we do that, we’re really tough to beat.”

A sellout crowd should be expected as Minnesota United hosts the New York Red Bulls in the 2020 opener at Allianz Field. Fresh off signing a contract extension, Heath hopes his team gives Loons fans a reason to be the best and the most engaged in the MLS.

It’s always a good day when a Minnesota United game ends with “Wonderwall.”

“Just the atmosphere that’s been generated while we’ve been here. It’s not just something that we talk about, the opposition here nearly every week, that’s one thing they always talk about,” Heath said. “It’s up to us to give the fans something to get behind this weekend. If we do, I know they won’t let us down. It’s been a great place for us so far.”