Luis Robles

The New York Red Bulls are preparing for a much-improved Minnesota United FC team to make their inaugural visit to Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.

The Red Bulls and the Loons met last year in Minnesota, with New York coming out on top 3-0. This year, though, a different Minnesota team has started the season on the right foot.

“I think they have been really good, I thought against Chicago they were dominant," Head Coach Jesse Marsch said following training on Thursday. "I think their midfielders played really well, controlled the game and they are much more sound defensively.

"Last year, they gave up so many goals, but I think this year they are better in the back, they are more organized and they have gotten good performances from their goalkeeper," the head coach said. "It is a much-improved team from last year and a team that is playing really well, so that is our expectation: to be put to the test.”

Minnesota is 2-1-0 on the year and second in the Western Conference, trailing Los Angeles Football Club on goal differential.

“They are off to an amazing start, really impressive start," Sean Davis said. "They look like a really strong team this year, they are playing with a lot of confidence and that is something you can not underestimate, especially with us missing a few key guys. It is important that we have the right mentality going into this. I have been really impressed with what they have brought to the table so far and I am sure that this game will be a very difficult test.”

While the Red Bulls will be without Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, Fidel Escobar and Michael Amir Murillo, who are all away on National Team duty, Minnesota will also be missing players. The Loons will be without Michael Boxall, Franscisco Calvo and Rasmus Schuller. Minnesota will also be missing a few players due to injury, too, with Kevin Molino, Sam Cronin, Tyrone Mears and Abu Danladi all out for Satruday's match.

Captain Luis Robles knows this is an opportunity for some of his teammates to see more playing time -- and set up and show what they're made of. 

"From the very beginning in preseason, Jesse said guys are going to be called upon, and when their number is called upon, they are expected to do a job, and so far, guys have been able to do that," Robles said. "So for us, the expectation is high for each and every person that gets called on, but because we’ve done well, there’s this idea that we can continue to build on that, and I feel like this is something we’re going to do this weekend."

It'll be even more important bouncing back from a loss, he said.

"As we bounce back from this match and go into the next one, the big point of emphasis is how are we going to not only respond to the loss, but continue to find ways, even when things aren’t going our way, to look like us," Robles said. "I think Minnesota is going to be a great test for us to see if we’re able to do that."