Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

Minnesota United’s trip north of the border couldn’t have gone much worse on the score line, as CF Montreal put four in the back of the net and the Loons couldn’t muster a single goal in response.

To pour salt in the wound, it was former Minnesota striker Mason Toye who spearheaded the host’s attack, earning a brace and his first two league goals in nearly a full calendar year. The match marked Toye’s return to the starting XI after missing nearly two full months with after suffering a torn meniscus in April. This was also on the same day Luis Amarilla’s transfer to Mazatlan FC in LIGA MX was made official.

Even so, MNUFC manager Adrian Heath was mostly pleased with the team’s performance outside of the conceded goals.

“We’ve conceded poor goals, the first two especially. But in between that, we played really, really well,” said Heath. “I know some people who watched the game might not think that, but that’s the case. I actually think that we’ve had better chances than they have tonight.”

While the Loons definitely had their opportunities to get on the board, especially following Emanuel Reynoso’s insertion at halftime, the statistics, much like the final score, were not in the visitor’s favor.

Minnesota had a majority of the time on the ball with 54% possession, which doesn’t seem to line up with the way they’ve found success this season, especially on the road, where they’ve mainly focused on playing a low block and letting the opposition possess.

In addition, the Loons held the total shots advantage with 16, but only four of those tested Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois. The hosts put eight of their 13 shots on frame.

Montreal held a narrow expected goals (xG) advantage with 1.51 to Minnesota’s 1.17 (according to FotMob), but were thoroughly superior in expected goals on target (xGOT), which shows quality of shot placement when putting the ball on target, accumulating 2.70 to the Loons’ 0.25.

“It’s not an easy one because normally when you get beat four-nil, you think about the game and think ‘yeah, they probably were better than us in most departments of the game.’ I don’t actually think that’s the case this evening,” said Heath.

Toye, who scored 10 goals in 50 total appearances (counting the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament) for Minnesota before being traded to CF Montreal in October 2020, opened his account for the season in the 7th minute. The attacker won a tackle at midfield, found himself 1v1 with Dayne St. Clair, and was able to fire his shot off before a recovering DJ Taylor could intervene. The well placed effort lifted over the goalkeeper’s head at the hosts were on the board.

After Montreal added another in the 13th, Toye secured his brace and further extended their lead after halftime, being in the right place at the right time to bury a point-blank rebound opportunity to make it 3-0.

“At the end of the day, it is what it is,” said Heath of the former Loon’s performance. “The first [goal] had come off DJ’s foot and spun over Dayne. The second one, I thought we should have dealt with it better than we did.”

With this result and others around the league this weekend, Minnesota now finds themselves on the wrong side of the Western Conference playoff line for the first time this season.

Is it a positive or negative to enter an international break and off-week following such a lopsided result? For Heath, the time off and time for rest outweighs the length of time the club will have to dwell on Saturday night’s blowout.

“Everybody is in a different stage in their season. The likes of [Bakaye] Dibassy, the likes of [Reynoso] and one or two others… they need work and they’ll get work in the next couple of weeks,” said Heath. “People like [Michael Boxal] and people like Micky [Tapias] have played virtually every minute of every game. This will be an opportunity for us to give them some rest as much mentally as well as physically. Hopefully, we can get one or two people freshened up and one or two people with a little bit more work on and a little bit more match fitness.”

A handful of Loons now turn their attention to representing their respective countries this coming week and weekend, before Minnesota returns to MLS play Saturday, June 24th at Real Salt Lake.

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