History shows Minnesota face tough task just to make the playoffs

Minnesota United haven’t hit the panic button yet, but history isn’t on their side when it comes to bouncing back from an 0-3 start to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Since 2000, only six teams have rebounded from losing their first three games of the season to reach the playoffs, per MLS' own Rick Lawes,

  • New York City FC (2020): 4 losses
  • Inter Miami CF (2020); 5 losses
  • Seattle Sounders FC (2018): 3 losses
  • Seattle Sounders FC (2016): 3 losses
  • D.C. United (2007): 3 losses
  • Columbus Crew SC (2004): 3 losses

Seattle practically had the copyright on second-half surges, winning MLS Cup in 2016 and finishing second in the Western Conference in 2018 before being ousted on penalty kicks in the Conference Semifinals by rival Portland.

Of course, the 2020 season, which saw New York City FC and Inter Miami CF reach the postseason after three (and more) losses to start the year is a bit of an outlier because of the expanded playoff field and all-round strangeness of the pandemic-impacted season.

As for getting out of their current rut, Loons boss Adrian Heath said there’s no magic wand.

“It’s gonna take us working really hard on the training ground, getting a really good defensive shape and then hopefully catching a break in the attacking half,” Heath said after Minnesota United’s 1-0 loss to Austin FC at Allianz Field Saturday. “And I know that sounds really, really simple, but sometimes that’s what it needs. And we need to go and get a clean sheet and hopefully we can get a goal and go from there.”

Next up for the Loons is a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) to take on a Colorado Rapids team coming off a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“We know we need to start to turn results around, but it’s a long season and we’ve got what, 31 games left,” midfielder Hassani Dotson said. “So I mean it’s a long season ahead of us, but we know that we need to start getting results soon.”