Out of a playoff spot, Loons feeling the pressure

Sep. 18—Tension has ratcheted up on Minnesota United.

The Loons (8-8-7) have fallen out of the seven MLS Cup Playoffs spots for the Western Conference. They had plans — which now might resemble hopes —for a top-four spot and at least one game at Allianz Field.

One example of the tension growing is the club let go of Damien Roden, its senior director of sports science, as injuries during stacked up over the past few weeks. Another example is supporters groups repeating their call this week for the club to require a proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test before going into the St. Paul stadium, but MNUFC has remained like other local teams without a mandate.

On the field, the latest stage of United’s slide caused road rash in a 4-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. The primary blight has been goal-scoring with only one West club, expansion side Austin FC, scoring fewer goals. Minnesota has 24 in 23 games.

It doesn’t get much easier with fourth-place L.A. Galaxy (11-8-5) coming to Allianz Field at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Two bits of positive news: Leading scorer Robin Lod could play more after coming back from a five-game absence for the K.C. game, and top playmaker Emanuel Reynoso might be back after a three-game absence.

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