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Renewed Minnesota will be no cakewalk for Sounders

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The Loons are enjoying a recent run of good form thanks to the addition of Darwin Quintero

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders won’t be taking Minnesota United lightly when they travel to TCF Bank on Saturday. Despite a recent setback on the road in Vancouver, Minnesota has won three of their last four matches and has been playing a much better brand of soccer since adding Colombian forward Darwin Quintero March 31.

Quintero’s name will be familiar to Sounders fans. The 30-year-old has three career goals against Seattle from his time with Santos Laguna and Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“He changes everything,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said about Quintero following Thursday’s training session. “Have you seen some of his goals? All you soccer fans have to watch his highlight reel since he’s come to Minnesota because the goals have been fantastic. He makes them more dynamic, dangerous. (Christian) Ramirez has benefitted from that. (Miguel) Ibarra has benefitted from that because we have to watch Quintero and then the guys around him get better. He’s been a good addition for them. A good addition for the league.

“Whenever he gets the ball he’s dangerous. We’ve got to make sure that when he gets the ball he passes to someone else. We can’t let him dribble in on goal or shoot on goal, that’s when he becomes very dangerous.”

Quintero’s nine goals and eight assists in 17 matches will have him on Seattle’s watch list for the evening, but the Loons have other threats as well. Ramirez and Ibarra have combined for 13 goals, helping Minnesota average 1.59 goals per game.

Schmetzer will be glad to have his first-choice pick of defensive players available for the match, thanks to Kelvin Leerdam’s return to match-fitness and the successful reintegration of Osvaldo Alonso, who has played at least 75 minutes in each of Seattle’s last two matches. The back line will have its hands full with the likes of Ramirez and Quintero, but can hopefully ride their recent run of form (two goals allowed in their last five matches) to a result on the road.

Minnesota’s defense makes the Loons something of a glass cannon. The club has conceded 44 goals in 22 matches, the third-highest total in the league (Chicago has conceded 46, Orlando City has allowed 51). Such disorganization at the back might provide the perfect opportunity for Schmetzer to roll out the 4-4-2 that he used to finish off New York City FC July 30.

With an impending two-game home-stand and the prospect of reinforcements, a three-point result in the Twin Cities might have Seattle fully rolling in the final third of the season.