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There may be many reasons that Minnesota United decided to fire manager Adrian Heath on Friday — starting with the fact the Loons, in 12th place, likely need two wins in their final two games to clinch a playoff spot, even though MLS expanded the field from seven to nine teams this season.

It seems safe to say, though, that if their home record had been better, Heath — and MNUFC — wouldn't be in this mess.

The Loons play the Los Angeles Galaxy at Allianz Field on Saturday night, their final home game of the year, knowing that they've been plain bad in St. Paul this season. They have taken 18 of a possible 48 points in league games; only the hapless Colorado Rapids have taken fewer.

Look at the results, and it's easy to identify the problem. The Loons have scored one or fewer goals in 14 of their 16 MLS home games. Their home defense has been middling, but they've scored the second-fewest goals in the league, excluding three own goals from which they benefited.

It'd be easy to blame some sort of structural deficiency for Minnesota. Heath and the players have spoken about how they feel the need to carry the game at home, rather than just defending deep and attempting to score on the counterattack.

Given that the Loons own the league's sixth-best road record, and battered Puebla 4-0 at home in the Leagues Cup after going down to 10 men by scoring on the counter, you'd think that their solution would be just to pretend that Allianz Field was a road stadium.

The surprising thing, though, is that if you look at the underlying numbers, their home performances have been just fine.

According to the venerable stats website American Soccer Analysis, Minnesota is fourth in MLS this season in expected goals at home. Just judging by the expected value of the chances they've created and allowed, the Loons should have 12 more points at home than they actually do — the difference between being in second place in the Western Conference, and their current status, wallowing in the 12th spot.

If you look at the difference between the number of goals the Loons were expected to score at home and the number that they've actually scored, Minnesota is not only bad but historically bad. In the past 11 years, the limits of the database, the Loons have the third-worst numbers of any MLS team.

In other words, the Loons would be sitting pretty if they could just find the back of the net with their chances, instead of repeatedly bombarding the crowd behind the goals.

The player that has struggled the most to find the net in those league games is Bongokuhle Hlongwane. The winger has a bigger difference between his expected goals (more than 12) and his actual goals (8) than any other player in MLS this season, and almost all of that difference has come in home games.

The strange thing is Bongi played four other home games this year, in the US Open Cup and the Leagues Cup, and scored an astonishing seven goals. In 13 home MLS games, he's got only four.

The team's other two big goal-scorers, Teemu Pukki and Emanuel Reynoso, have been fine at home, with eight goals combined in just 16 total games played. The rest of the squad, though, has struggled. Ménder García and Franco Fragapane have just one goal apiece at Allianz Field this year. Sang Bin Jeong and Hassani Dotson, among others, have zero.

One of the defining themes of this season has been MNUFC's inability to win at home. They're not playing badly, and they know it; they just can't finish their scoring chances.

Heath has now paid for those finishing problems with his job. And without a win Saturday, those failures to find the net in St. Paul are going to keep Minnesota out of the playoffs for the first time since they opened Allianz Field.