(Photo credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)
Star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso is expected to return to the lineup Saturday night when Minnesota United hosts the San Jose Earthquakes in Saint Paul, Minn., in a match with key Western Conference playoff implications.
Reynoso returned to practice this week and is not listed on the injury reportafter sitting out the Loons' 2-1 loss to Western Conference leader St. Louis City last Saturday with a thigh injury. Reynoso, who has six goals and two assists in 14 appearances and 12 starts this season, left at halftime of the previous match, a 4-3 loss against the Los Angeles Galaxy in Carson, Calif., on Sept. 20.
Minnesota United (9-11-10, 37 points) blew a 3-1 second-half lead in that game, their fourth straight loss. The Loons currently sit three points below the playoff line with four matches and a possible 12 points still remaining. Only six points separate the fourth-place Houston Dynamo and the 11th-place Loons in the bunched-up West standings.
Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath believes his team has played better than the winless streak indicates.
"We just need a break," Heath said. "We just need somebody to score a goal, and we need somebody to give us a break at the other end when things go against us. The performances have been good. ... We've got a huge week coming up for us again. We've got to be ready for it."
The winless streak for the Loons began with a 1-1 draw at San Jose on Sept. 2. Teemu Pukki, who has scored four goals in the last five matches, scored in the fourth minute off a nice crossing pass from Reynoso, but Cade Cowell tied it in the 16th minute with a shot that changed direction off a United player.
San Jose (10-10-11, 41 points) enters the contest in eighth place and comes in off a 1-1 home draw with Nashville SC last Saturday. U.S. Men's National Team forward Matthew Hoppe scored for the second straight game, getting the equalizer in the 74th minute.
The Earthquakes are a dreadful 2-8-5 on the road this season and have won just three of their last 36 away matches in all competitions (3-22-11) since the start of the 2022 season. However, Minnesota United has surprisingly struggled on its home turf this season, compiling just a 3-4-8 record.
"Minnesota is the focus," San Jose coach Luchi Gonzalez said. "It's about taking one step at a time, staying present in the moment. And we're going to set ourselves to compete and come away from Minnesota with points."
Earthquakes star Cristian Espinoza leads the team with 12 goals and 11 assists, but he has gone seven matches without finding the back of the net. He has chipped in four assists during the stretch.
--Field Level Media