No matter how their season started, April 14 was always going to be a party for Minnesota United.
Now that they've won three of their five road games to start the season, though, the Loons are positively ebullient. The cherry on top of their season-opening road trip was a hard-fought 2-1 win at the home of the 2018 Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls, which put the Minnesota locker room in a great mood heading into Saturday's game against New York City FC (5 pm ET | ESPN2).
“[Red Bull Arena is] a tough ground to come [to]. To get a win here is incredible,” said Minnesota 'keeper Vito Mannone after their most recent win. “I think the team put a shift in from minute one until stoppage time. I think we deserved the three points and we showed what team we can be and we’re capable of these results. If we play with the same attitude, we can beat anyone in the league.”
If Minnesota are feeling confident after their season-opening road swing, it's for good reason. They've already comfortably surpassed their 2018 total of five points on the road, and their next road win will see them better their 2017 haul of 11 points. Although they may have surpassed most pundits' expectations with their impressive opening to 2019, those results mean they've simply met the the lower end of their expectations.
“We spoke to the group before the season started with five games on the road, and we thought that if we can come out with seven or nine, it's been a really, really good start for us, and that's what we've got. So we're delighted,” head coach Adrian Heath said after Saturday's game. “We've virtually played a third of our away games now. So to be where we are gives us a lot of encouragement. As I said to the players after, it's been a reasonable start, but we can get better.”
Still, Heath cautioned, Minnesota can't let the hot start get to their heads when the gates open in St. Paul next Saturday.
“We've actually given ourselves a good little start,” Heath said. “But as I said, it doesn't count for anything next week. It's going to be a nice day for everybody, but like I just said to the players, they're nicer days when you win.”