Neither Minnesota United nor New York City FC have enjoyed ideal preparation for their Saturday MLS encounter.

Both teams played U.S. Open Cup ties in midweek, with Minnesota stunned by Union Omaha, incredibly losing 2-1 at home.

Coach Adrian Heath’s initial one-ward assessment was that the result was “embarrassing”, and his players will have plenty of making up to do given the criticism of them that followed.

“I’ve been here before and the longer I’m in football I’ll be here again,” Heath said. “The game is littered with it all over the world, Premier League clubs getting beat by fourth division clubs, and it’s invariably because you don’t approach the game in the right manner.

“I couldn’t have said any more to the guys from Monday, Tuesday and the game of what to expect and what was to come. We have to shoulder the responsibility of that, and I do. It’s my responsibility to make sure they don’t play like that. But sometimes along that way, you have to as an individual stand up and go, ‘that isn’t going to be me, he’s not going to label that at me after the game’.”

NYCFC advanced against the New England Revolution but might be concerned by the discourse around head coach Ronny Deila.

Having guided the defending MLS Cup champions to five successive victories and a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions, Deila is said to be a target for Standard Liege.

Reports in the United Kingdom, where Deila previously managed Celtic, claim the NYCFC coach is mulling over a potential return to Europe and could make a call as soon as this week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Minnesota United – Robin Lod

Heath must be concerned Minnesota is growing too dependent on Lod. He had scored in three consecutive matches before being left out of the Cup encounter, where the Loons came up short against lower-league opposition in his absence. For now, at least, Heath needs him to fire.

New York City FC – Thiago Andrade

With four goals and two assists, Andrade already has more goal involvements in 2022 than in the entirety of his debut 2021 campaign. But he has now gone four games without either scoring or creating a goal, and NYCFC has not been quite so prolific as a result.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This will be the first meeting between Minnesota United and New York City FC in over three years since a 3-3 draw in April 2019. Each team recorded a home win in the first two meetings, with NYCFC doing so in 2017 and Minnesota United in 2018.

– Minnesota United ended a four-match winless run (D1 L3) with a 2-1 victory at Dallas on Sunday. The Loons have won two straight matches seven times since the start of last season, as 14 of the club’s previous 17 wins before the one on Sunday came in pairs.

– No team has been better than New York City since it was eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League on April 13. NYCFC has earned 19 of a possible 21 points (W6 D1) in that span, six more than any other MLS team.

– Lod, who scored Minnesota United’s first goal on Sunday, has found the net in three straight MLS matches. He is the third player in Minnesota United history to score in three straight MLS matches after Kevin Molino (three times) and Darwin Quintero, although no Loons player has done so in four straight.

– New York City FC has kept a clean sheet in a club-record five straight MLS matches. Only two teams have gone on a longer run of games without conceding within a single regular season, as Houston did so in seven straight games in 2007 and Kansas City kept six straight clean sheets in 2000.