Editorial (October 16, 2017) – There is one match day left in the 2017 MLS regular season. Minnesota United FC are eliminated from MLS Cup Playoff contention. But, the expansion side still has a chance to make some (ignominious) MLS history on Sunday.
Minnesota United FC Defense Could Set MLS Goals Against Record On Sunday
The Loons have conceded 67 goals in 33 games this year. That is tied for the record with the 2013 Chivas USA side for the most goal against in a 34 game MLS season. The all-time record belongs to the 1998 Colorado Rapids, who allowed 69 goals against in a 32 game season (without draws). There is a legitimate question whether or not the Minnesota United defense could be the worst in league history.
They have allowed at least two goals in every away game this year, except two. They are tied for the fewest clean sheets on the year with five, all of which have come at home. And they had that awful start with 18 goals in their first four games.
To give Minnesota some credit, they’ve improved tremendously from that time. The attack is fun to watch. Kevin Molino and Christian Ramirez are legit. Head Coach Adrian Heath has done a good job getting various wingers involved. The team has no official Designated Players right now. Heath was hired just one transfer window before the start of the season. With the right off-season moves and some more spending, they absolutely could make the playoffs next year.
Why It Could Be Worse Than The 2013 Chivas And 1998 Colorado Teams:
Compared to these two other record holders, Minnesota could still pass them. The worst kept secret about the Chivas USA experiment was that the parent ownership didn’t care about results and were rarely competitive. They were essentially a farm team for the Liga MX mother club, Chivas Guadalajara.
Minnesota is actually trying to compete and win, albeit on a budget without any DPs. Despite all that, if they don’t get a clean sheet at San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, they will pass one of the worst teams in league history. That’s a tough pill to swallow for supporters.
As poor as Minnesota’s defense was this weekend, they have a chance to give up two goals or fewer. That would keep them from breaking the all-time record. Here’s the thing about the 1998 Colorado Rapids: MLS wasn’t playing with ties at the time.
If matches were tied after full time, they went to the old school shootout format. The winner of the game would be awarded a shootout goal on the scoreboard. Thus, if regulation ends 2-2, the scoreline would read 3-2 after a shootout winner was determined. Thus, the losing team would record three goals against, not two.
That Rapids team went 16-16 with two shootout losses. So two of those goals didn’t come from actual play. In the actual play of regulation, they only conceded 67 goals in 32 games. They probably would have given a goal or more in those two extra games, so take this with a grain of salt.
I’m almost never in favor comparing eras. With the changes in rules, money, number of teams, etc. MLS 1.0 and MLS 3.0 are completely different worlds. This record set in MLS 1.0 should be thrown out in the context of comparing records set in 2017 with a 34 game season and ties. Just some food for thought.
So What Are The Chances:
San Jose currently occupy the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They can’t catch fifth place Houston Dynamo, but FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake can still catch them and knock them out. Sunday is effectively a must win game for the Quakes. They got a huge 1-1 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC this weekend while RSL and Dallas both lost.
I expect San Jose to come out guns blazing. I don’t see Minnesota surviving that unscathed. Chris Wondolowski and company will get at least one goal. They could very much get two. My prediction is that Minnesota will pass that 2013 Chivas USA team for goals against. We’ll see if they can pass the 1998 Rapids and get to 70 goals against.