Minnesota United look to pick up another three points on Saturday, as they entertain Chicago Fire at Allianz Field (4pm ET). The visitors go in search of a positive result following a disappointing period.
After back-to-back defeats, Minnesota’s start to the campaign wasn’t looking so great, but the Loons bounced back in timely fashion last weekend, beating the Colorado Rapids by three goals to one at this venue. Suddenly, things are looking up for the team that now has three wins from five games, and after getting plenty of joy in front of their own fans last time out, Adrian Heath’s men should come into this fixture feeling good.
As for the Fire, well, things aren’t looking so good. On the one hand, they remain tough to beat, and have lost just one of their opening seven Major League Soccer games, which is not something that should be ignored, but a lack of goals is starting to prove costly. Saturday’s visitors are now without a win in three in the MLS, while they suffered defeat in the US Open Cup against opposition from what is technically the third tier of US soccer just a few days ago. After such a defeat, there’s likely to be a lack of confidence in the locker room occupied by Ezra Hendrickson’s men.
The Chicago Fire have adopted something of pragmatic approach at the start of the campaign, that’s for sure. Defensively sound, Hendrickson’s men have kept things tight, they have dug in, and they’ve stopped teams from hurting them, favoring a counter-attacking approach rather than trying to take the fight to opponents. Such a style has yielded great results at one end of the field, but a lack of goals at the other. The Fire have conceded just two goals in their opening seven games, which is an achievement to applaud, keeping five clean sheets. Unfortunately, they have scored only five goals, failing to score in five out of seven.
Away from home, the Chicago Fire have scored two goals, and have failed to score in two out of three games. Though in their last two traveling fixtures, they did create a reasonable amount, posting 2.1 expected goals against D.C. and 1.5 against Inter Miami. So fans can perhaps be hopeful that their team will go to Allianz Field and produce the goods offensively.
Good and bad from the Loons
Like the visitors have given contrasting performances at either ends of the pitch at times during the opening weeks of the season, the Minnesota men have both impressed and disappointed, especially at home. Going forward, Heath’s players have created a more than reasonable amount, posting xG figures of 1.7, 1.5, 1.7 and 1.4 in their four games at Allianz Field, scoring in each of those four, notching a total of six. However, apart from keeping San Jose quiet, they have given quite a bit away, conceding xG figures of 1.4, 1.3 and 2.2, conceding four goals in those three games.
Recent head-to-head record
Despite being the most recent winners of this fixture, the Chicago Fire don’t exactly have the most promising record against Minnesota United. Each of the last two renewals have ended all-square, one of which was a friendly back in January of this year, while it was the Fire who won when the pair met back in mid-2019, though that was their first win in four against the Loons, who’ve won three of the four Major League Soccer fixtures between the two. In MLS, the pair have twice met at Allianz Field. In 2020, they drew 2-2, while the Minnesota won by two goals to one when the pair met at this venue back in 2018.
MNUFC vs CFFC: Goals for both on the cards
At first glance, this may seem like a typical low-scorer, and hey, it may pan out that way, but at the current odds, ‘Both Teams to Score’ (BTTS) looks a good bet. Yes, the Fire have struggled quite considerably to find a way to really hurt teams on a regular basis whilst adopting a less frenetic approach, but their last few efforts on the road have been more encouraging.
What’s more, away from home, the visitors have been a bit fortunate to concede just a single goal, as they’ve surrendered expected goal totals of 2.9, 1.3, and 1.5. If such numbers are sustained, then it won’t be long before the traveling clean sheets are absolutely a thing of the past.
Throw in Minnesota’s numbers at home and goals for both seem likely, perhaps more likely than the betting lines suggest. For a start, both teams have scored in three out of four at Allianz Field this season, while the Loons are averaging 1.57 xG for and 1.27 xG against in their own backyard. Combine this Chicago’s averages of 1.33 for and 1.90 against and ‘Both Teams to Score’ starts to look like a viable play.
Hunou to hit the net
If going down the road of a player prop is where you want to venture, then take Adrien Hunou to notch. The Minnesota forward has struggled with injury so far this season, but he is now fit, so much so that he played 85 minutes in the US Open Cup during the week, scoring when in the starting XI for the first time this campaign.
Now fit and healthy, the Frenchman is likely to return to being the focal point of the Loons attack, and after he notched seven times during his debut MLS season last time around, averaging an impressive 0.54 expected goals per 90 minutes. He is tipped to get on the scoresheet against a Chicago Fire back-line that has struggled to prevent chances being created on the road. So these are the MNUFC vs CFFC predictions and betting picks for this preview: