Changes are coming to Minnesota United FC and the Colorado Rapids next year, but there's still some unfinished business left in 2018.
Two teams looking to the future square off as United hosts the Rapids on Saturday.
Minnesota (11-17-3) seeks its seventh win in eight league matches at TCF Bank Stadium, where the club is 10-4-1. Since July 4, the Loons notched home wins over playoff-bound Los Angeles FC and New York City FC, and over the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake, which are fighting to secure postseason spots.
"They're very strong at home," Colorado coach Anthony Hudson noted. "They are a dangerous team."
Minnesota's playoff hopes ended with a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. Darwin Quintero scored early in the second half with the game already well out of reach.
"It's just another reminder to me that we are not where we want to be moving forward," Loons coach Adrian Heath told the team's official website. "We have made strides. This team's better this year than it was last year. But if we are going to be really competitive when we move into our new stadium (Allianz Field in 2019), then we have to make the appropriate changes to make us better."
Heath's side certainly has some firepower with midfielders Quintero (11 goals, 13 assists) and Miguel Ibarra (seven goals, eight assists), but not much after them. The club must improve on defense as it surrendered the second-most goals (63) in the Western Conference this year with Bobby Shuttleworth yielding 51 in 25 games.
However, Colorado (6-19-6) has the fewest goals in the league this season with 32, and is 1-11-3 away from home. The club comes off last Saturday's 3-0 loss to LAFC that clinched a playoff spot for the first-year side.
For the Rapids, 2019 cannot come soon enough. Hudson's team has been outscored 22-1 during a seven-game skid, and Colorado's minus-30 goal differential is a league-worst.
Regardless, Hudson is pleased with his team not just going through the motions with nothing left to play for in 2018.
"I'd find this even harder if I was coming into work and we didn't have a group of players that are absolutely giving everything," he said Wednesday. "Of course people are disappointed, but everyone is focused and completely concentrated on what we need to do."
Each side has a win, loss and a draw in their previous meetings. Colorado topped Minnesota, 3-2, on June 23 as Tommy Smith scored the winner in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
"We know their strengths. We know their weaknesses. We're just going to go there and try to play well, both attacking and defending, and hopefully we'll get three points," Rapids midfielder Johan Blomberg said.