33 games down, one to go in order to accomplish the goal that was begun in March: playoffs. The Quakes control their own destiny at home versus the expansion-side Minnesota United FC; a win guarantees their first post-season appearance since 2012. A loss or a draw could bounce the Quakes from the post-season. While not a “must win” game, the game should be treated as such today at Avaya.
Minnesota United have nothing to play for, except to play the role of playoff spoilers. The Loons began the season in dismal fashion, wracking up more than a few demoralizing defeats; the Quakes even managed one of their three road wins in Minnesota. However, the Loons rebounded to climb out of the basement and into eighth place overall in the West.
Minnesota will probably start a 4-4-2 that helped the Loons with a draw versus Sporting Kansas City a few weeks back: Bobby Shuttleworth in goal, and Francisco Calvo, Brent Kallman, Joseph Greenspan, and Jerome Thiesson on the back-line. In the midfield, Ethan Finlay and Miguel Ibarra will play on the wings with Ibson and Colin Martin playing centrally. At forward, Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi should start.
The Quakes will probably keep the lineup that’s helped them net points in their previous two games: a four-man backfield of Kofi Sarkodie, Victor Bernardez, Flo Jungwirth, and Shea Salinas, combined with two defensive mids in Darwin Ceren and Anibal Godoy. Offensively, the Quakes will probably start Jahmir Hyka, Vako, and Chris Wondolowski on the attack with Danny Hoesen as the target forward.
The Quakes play well at home, while Minnesota is not the best road team. Minnesota also has a very suspect defense, so the Quakes should net more than one goal. If the Quakes defense can contain Ramirez, Finlay, and Ibarra (which they should), the Quakes should finish with a 2-1 victory and playoffs in their future.