Minnesota United FC advanced to the fourth round of the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 win over Forward Madison FC in third round action Wednesday evening at Breese Stevens Field.
The Battle of the Birds saw the Loons and the Flamingos take flight on a rainy Wednesday evening in Madison, with northern Spring temperatures and a soaked pitch playing factors into the match. Goals from forward Adrien Hunou and defender Brent Kallman saw the Loons leave the “Mingo Nest” with the W in hand and their name scratched into the fourth round bracket.
“It was the Windy Night in Stoke City, that’s what everybody talks about. It was about one of them nights,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “All we missed was Rory Delap. It would have made you feel at home. It was difficult conditions but it’s the same for both teams and you get on with it.”
The difficult conditions made for a competitive atmosphere between the two sides, but two set piece goals saw the Loons take their chances.
“I thought we were excellent all evening. Matt [Glaeser]’s got a really good little group here,” said Heath. “They’re well-organized, they’re highly motivated and we knew it was going to be tough. But we set ourselves up nice and early, we kept playing the ball wide, stretching them as much as we could. I don’t think Tyler [Miller] had a save to make all evening. Against a highly motivated, well-organized team, I think it was a very professional and disciplined performance from our guys, in really difficult conditions.”
Pleased with performances on the pitch, the MNUFC gaffer praised the likes of the two MNUFC2 players who featured in Nabilai Kibunguchy and Aziel Jackson, who have both been impressing with the MLS NEXT Pro side of late.
“I thought Nabi [Kibunguchy] was terrific. I can’t really remember any mistakes from him, certainly not important ones,” Heath said.
For Forward Madison, embracing the Loons competition and keeping in the tie until the 86th minute dagger from Kallman was important for their growth in the competition. In the 2019 edition of the Open Cup, where the Loons ended as runners-up after falling to Atlanta United in the final, the Flamingos made their exit in the third round.
“I’m really proud of the guys, they worked their socks off, we knew it was going to be a tall order,” Forward Madison manager Matt Glaeser said. “The guys worked their socks off and stuck to the game plan and I think we made it interesting for a better part of the game.”
Glaeser said he was pleased both the result and the resilience of his side, who were ultimately lining up to play the role of Underdog as a USL League One side taking on a top-tier Major League Soccer side.
Glaeser added that conceding on two set pieces was cause for concern, mentioning it’s something that he sees his squad will need to improve on as they continue their USL League One season.
Minnesota United will next host the Colorado Rapids in the Round of 32 at Allianz Field, with the official date and time TBD.