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Minnesota United vs. Real Salt Lake: Keys to the match, projected starting XI and a prediction

Minnesota United vs. Real Salt Lake

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Allianz Field
Stream: Apple TV Season Pass
Radio: KSTP-AM 1500
Weather: 51 degrees, clear skies, 15 mph west wind
Betting line: MNUFC plus-110; draw plus-250; RSL plus-215

Form: The Loons (3-1-1, 10 points) lost for the first time this season, 2-0 to Philadelphia last week. RSL (3-1-2, 10 points) has won two straight, including 3-1 over St. Louis last week.

Best start? If Minnesota beats Salt Lake, MNUFC would set a record with 13 points in its opening six matches of a season.

Series history: Minnesota is 5-3-7 in MLS regular season games against RSL and is winless in three straight. Justen Glad’s goal in the 98th minute in Utah last June made for a 2-2 draw. A handful of Loons players dropped to the grass when Glad’s shot rippled the roof of the net in stoppage time.

Absences: Four Loons remain out: Emanuel Reynoso (U.S. green card), Micky Tapias (hamstring), Kervin Arriaga (knee) and Zarek Valentin (hamstring).

Projected XI: In a 4-3-3 formation, LW Bongi Hlongawne, CF Teemu Pukki, RW Sang Bin Jeong; CM Hassani Dotson, CM Robin Lod, CM Wil Trapp; LB Joseph Rosales, CB Victor Eriksson, CB Michael Boxall, RB DJ Taylor; GK Dayne St. Clair.

Scouting report: Defensive breakdowns led to both Philadelphia goals last weekend, and those issues will be under the spotlight with striker Chicho Arango recording a hat trick against St. Louis a week ago. Arango’s five total goals this season is one off the MLS golden boot lead (six from New York Red BullsLewis Morgan). With Tapias out, Eriksson (or Devin Padelford) and the Loons’ back line will have their hands full with Arango and Co.

Check-in: Going into Friday night games, former Loons and current Mazatlan striker Luis Amarilla was tied for the Liga MX scoring lead with seven goals.

Stat: With MNUFC2 losing 2-0 to Michigan Stars in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, only three of the 11 MLS Next Pro teams remain in the national tournament for the third round.

Quote: The players are “really positive, really energetic and really willing — and that has not changed from my Day 1,” head coach Eric Ramsay said Friday, coming off his first lost with MNUFC. “Fingers crossed that remains to be the case. But they remain a great group to work with.”

Prediction: Arango has contributed to a goal in five consecutive games this season and MNUFC has defensive holes for a second straight week, but Jeong gets on the score sheet to salvage a point in St. Paul. A 1-1 draw.