MNUFC2 played yet another high-scoring match late Sunday night, drawing even with the Tacoma Defiance, 4-4, after regulation. The Twos would go on to fall 4-2 in the penalty shootout, taking only one point on the night.
Tacoma controlled a good portion of the first half, holding nearly 60 percent of possession while pressing high right at the opening whistle. Those two elements made for a challenging start for the Twos, and in the 8th minute, Tacoma scored the first goal of the game. Braudilio Rodrigues received a pass from a loose ball atop the Twos’ 18-yard box, and his strike went past goalkeeper Fred Emmings at the near post.
In the 44th minute of the match, Minnesota found their equalizer when midfielder Rory O’Driscoll sent in a cross to the middle of Tacoma’s box, with Diogo Pacheco waiting and scoring off a header. The goal was the Portuguese’s sixth goal on the season, keeping him tied for 2nd in the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot race.
At the start of the second half, MNUFC2 took the momentum. The Twos first took advantage of a poor Defiance clearance that landed at the feet of Pacheco, who in turn connected with an open midfielder Jesse Khan. The Trinidad & Tobago international scored from close range to give the Twos the lead. Less than five minutes later, another Tacoma turnover gave MNUFC2 a transition opportunity, where midfielder Emmanuel Iwe netted the team’s third goal of the night to extend the lead to 3-1.
But, the home side pulled one back in the 66th minute when Raul Miglietti connected on a cross and through two Doubloons defenders, took a shot that deflected off the post and into the net. Rodrigues scored his second goal of the game and the equalizer in the 75th minute after weaving around the Twos defense inside the 18-yard box. Tacoma regained the lead three minutes later off an Antonio Herrera breakaway that led to a scramble in front of goal, where Herrera was fed the ball again and netted the shot to give the Washington team the 4-3 lead.
“We stopped doing a lot of the things we were doing that got us the goals to go in the lead and started inviting a little more pressure,” said MNUFC2 manager Cameron Knowles. “That gives [Tacoma] a little more belief, they score, that gives them even more belief and now it’s all on.”
In the dying moments of the game, Pacheco delivered a dangerous cross into the Tacoma six-yard box, perfectly connecting with O’Driscoll, who beat the goalkeeper to the ball and scored to equalize the match at 4-4 in the first minute of stoppage time and force a PK shootout to determine who takes the extra point. Tacoma won the shootout 4-2, leaving the Twos with just one point on the night.
“When you isolate the result, it’s a point on the road. There’s positives in that,” said Knowles. “We can’t be scoring four goals and not getting three points. That’s really got to be our focus moving forward; being tougher to break down in those moments, especially when we’re carrying the lead.”
With the draw, MNUFC2 stand in seventh place in MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference regular-season action with a 3-2-3 record (W-L-D) and 13 points.
MNUFC2 will return home on Wednesday, May 24 to face LA Galaxy II at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine at 7 p.m.