After six consecutive road matches to start their 2023 campaign, MNUFC2 returned home to the National Sports Center in Blaine Sunday evening, and made the long wait worth it for their fans in a 3(6)-3(5) shootout victory over Chicago Fire II.
Defender Doneil Henry, signed by the MNUFC first team in the offseason, made the start in this one as he continues to recover from a nagging leg injury. Newly signed Cedrik Gbo also made his debut, starting and playing all 90 minutes.
Jesse Khan and Patrick Weah helped Minnesota get out to an early 2-0 lead, with Khan scoring off a rebound opportunity he created in the 14th minute and Weah notching his third goal of the campaign from the penalty spot in the 23rd.
“We just found a lot of success running in behind and that front three- running forward and playing balls in behind,” said MNUFC2 manager Cameron Knowles. “They were pressing us really high, really aggressive with the way they pressed, and we expected that coming into the game.”
The visitors would pull one back before halftime, via the right foot of Harold Orosio. After the break, Chicago would build off that momentum with two more goals. Doubloons’ goalkeeper Fred Emmings was able to get his fingertips on an Omar Glasgow shot in the 53rd minute, but it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the back of the net. The Fire would then take the lead less than 10 minutes later, as Billy Hency put away a cross to silence the NSC crowd.
“After the 2-0 [lead], we got a little bit complacent, and we stopped pressing,” said midfielder Diogo Pacheco. “At the midfield, [Chicago] won a lot of the second balls- that’s on us.”
In the dying moments, MNUFC2 would be rewarded for their pressure. Pacheco made his way into the box and sent a dangerous ball across goal, where Fire defender (and former Forward Madison standout) Eric Leonard got a foot on it, but deflected the ball directly into the back of the net for the equalizer.
With both teams securing a point, the match would go to a shootout to determine who would take an extra point from the match.
In the extra session, Fred Emmings made two massive saves and enough Doubloons would take their chances from the spot to give Minnesota the 6-5 shootout victory.
“It’s very recent for us having the shootout just last week,” said Knowles. “There are some guys that are really ready to step up, and we knew that Fred [Emmings] is good at saving them always. We have a lot of belief in the group if we get ourselves in that situation.”
MNUFC2 now heads back on the road for a Mother’s Day (or Night) matchup with the Tacoma Defiance, May 14th at 10 p.m. CT on MLSNextPro.com.