Miguel “Micky” Tapias’s 82nd minute header secured all three points for Minnesota United Saturday evening in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods park.
Tapias scored his first goal for the Loons in Major League soccer after the 26-year-old arrived from Liga MX side Pachuca this offseason. The Mexican’s goal helped the Loons maintain an unbeaten record through four weeks of the season, moving to 2-0-1 (WLD). The Rapids, meanwhile, have yet to earn their first three points of the campaign.
“It’s been a good start for us. To go away to Dallas and come here to Colorado, which are traditionally difficult places to play. I’ve been delighted that we’ve got six points from two away games,” Head coach Adrian Heath said.
The storyline for the Loons through their first three matches (four weeks) of the campaign is that they have found success without their talisman Emanuel Reynoso.
“Well we are really pleased. We have had a good start. When I consider what has been thrown at us the last few weeks, even the buildup to the Dallas game not knowing which players would be available,” Heath said. “Players are away, haven’t trained for four or five days together. Then you have the double-whammy of Reynoso not being here, then you have to change things around. It’s adversity and the lads are dealing with it really well.”
The two Western Conference sides battled it out in a second-half thriller in a frigid 38-degree temperature contest, with all three goals coming during the final 45 minutes.
Tapias’s header came off a Franco Fragapane free kick, with the Argentine delivering the ball on a platter into the box. The flick-on saw the ball rise above the entire Rapids defense and land in the top-right corner of the net.
Heath praised the workrate and leaping ability of Tapias postgame, despite his smaller size as a central defender.
“He’s surprisingly, when you see his size, he doesn’t get beat on a lot of headers. He manages to put his body against people to make it difficult for people who are physically bigger and stronger than him. He’s very good at getting himself in between, knowing when to drop off and knowing when to get tight. He’s showed all that composure.”
Rapids midfielder Cole Basset opened up the scoring in the 48th minute after beating DJ Taylor in the box and firing the ball through the MNUFC defense and underneath Dayne St. Clair. Just their second attempt on-target of the match, Basset’s clinical finish opened up the scoring.
MNUFC forward Luis Amarilla scored his first goal of the 2023 campaign just five minutes after the Rapids opened the scoring. The Paraguayan leveled the match from the penalty spot after a handball was called on Rapids defender Danny Wilson following a Hassani Dotson cross into the box.
A 67th minute attacking attempt from the Rapids off a set piece ball saw Wilson nearly serve up a tater tot hotdish of redemption with a booming header off the crossbar. There was a follow-up attempt by central defender Lalas Abubakar, but the danger was eventually cleared.
MNUFC winger Bongokuhle Hlongwane found the back of the net not even 60 seconds later in what the Loons believed was the go-ahead goal of the match, but the offside flag was raised.
Heath was disappointed in the run from Hlongwane, saying “he should have kept himself onside,” during the run.
“Those little moments are important and we might have ruined the opportunity by going offside, had they scored later,” Heath said.
Despite the mistimed run from Hlongwane, the Loons energized final 45’ saw them find the back of the net twice, securing all three points in their second road victory of the season.
MNUFC will return to Allianz Field to host the Vancouver Whitecaps in the two sides first meeting of the season.