Image: Minnesota United
Minnesota United FC recorded their very own Five Minutes of Madness in the third-round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday evening. The Loons found the back of the net three times in a five-minute span to comeback and defeat USL Championship side Detroit City FC 3-1 at Keyworth Stadium.
Minnesota narrowly avoided defeat, despite the score failing to represent that. It was a bleak performance from a talented MLS side whereas the hosts came out with all the confidence in the world; they played like they had nothing to lose and it absolutely worked for them.
“There’s a couple of things I want to speak about beforehand. I know people think these games are easy; I know that. I just wanted to win the game this evening,” said MNUFC Manager Adrian Heath. “I don’t think people realize [the] hostile environment, the pitch is an Astroturf from maybe 20 years ago. This was a difficult game, and we knew it was going to be.”
“For the lads to go in 1-0 down, I thought that after the first 10 minutes, we got a grip of the way they were going to play. Then, we started to get a bit of pressure on them. I thought it was only a matter of time.”
Following an opening 45 minutes that saw the Loons concede early and fall behind the pace of the game, changes were made tactically, and Heath instilled the belief in his players that they could make the comeback – despite the circumstances.
“I tip my hat off to Detroit. A terrific atmosphere. They have a really good thing going here with the atmosphere they create and I’m just pleased to get through and onto the next round. Because having been in football a long time, and I’ve had the beauty of winning FA Cups and going to finals and on that run, going from the third round all the way through, there’s always games where you think, ‘how the hell did we get through?’. I don’t think that was one of these tonight, but I’m just pleased to get through because I know how difficult it is.”
Goals from Franco Fragapane, Emmanuel Iwe and Luis Amarilla secured all three points and helped the Loons avoid what was building up to be an embarrassing defeat for the second consecutive year to a lower division side. It was a special night for Iwe, who scored his first senior goal for the Loons.
“I thought, as the game wore on, that we would eventually… that extra fitness would take over, and thought that once we get a grip, we would play because they [Detroit City FC] do play a slightly different way from a lot of teams,” Heath said. “I thought they did well, I have to be honest with you. I don’t want to talk about their five minutes of madness, I’m just pleased that a couple of people got goals. [Emmanuel] Iwe got a goal, made a deflection. Luis [Amarilla] got a goal and Fraga [Franco Fragapane]. That will do their confidence [inaudible]. The only thing about these games is advance.”
The Loons will find out their round of 32 opponents in the coming days following the completion of the third round on Wednesday. The Loons exited the Open Cup in the round of 32 in 2022 after they fell to USL League One side Union Omaha at Allianz Field. They’ll look to turn it around and not make that same mistake this year.
“Let’s see where we are, what team we play. As I always say, contrary to popular belief, the opposition want to win,” Heath said. “We’ll treat it with the same respect that we did tonight. Although we made a few changes, I still thought these players were capable of winning the game, which is what we got.”