Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

Emanuel Reynoso scored an Olimpico in first half stoppage time against the Portland Timbers, the first of Rey’s two on the night en-route to a special evening at Allianz Field.

“The first one, obviously a bit of quality from the corner, and he’s capable of that – we’ve seen it in training – where he looks like he’s going to cross it, but he whips it in near post. I’m really pleased for him [Emanuel Reynoso],” Loons head coach Adrian Heath said. “Since he’s got here, he’s trained really hard, he’s in great shape and if we can keep him engaged the way that he is at this moment in time… training really really hard, 100 percent each session, then he will be a big plus for us.”

Reynoso and winger Bongokuhle Hlongwane combined for the final goal of the night, which capped off celebrations at Allianz Field. Following the full-time whistle, fireworks lit up the sky and Wonderwall echoed across the grounds from the sold-out crowd.

“I feel like we have that connection [Hlongwane and Reynoso] because you can check last season, I had been assisting him and he had been giving me those passes… so I think that we still have that connection [despite Reynoso’s four-month long absence to begin the season],” Hlongwane said. “I think we are still going to do a lot of things for the team in the upcoming games.”

Heading into the evening, the Loons had just 10 matches remaining on their home schedule through the remainder of the 2023 regular season. With just one league win at Allianz Field under their belt into July, finding form at home was expressed as “incredibly important” by Aadrian Heath during the FIFA International break in June. 

Hlongwane and Heath both believe they’re on the right track now, with the group’s confidence starting to peak.

“I feel like if you can see, we can score goals, but sometimes you are failing to protect what you have. Today, we did a great job to protect what we have… if we can do that in the upcoming games we are playing at home, (like) next week on Saturday with Austin, if we can score early we’re going to have more victories.”

Pukki’s Arrival Has Loons Buzzing

Hlongwane told media Saturday evening that Teemu Pukki is not a forward he needs to watch film on or look at clips to learn about before he arrives. The reason? Pukki is a player Hlongwane has been watching since he was a kid.

“I don’t have to watch him (on film), because I’ve been watching him since I was young,” Hlongwane said. “The only thing we need to do is pass him the ball. He can score, he’s a good striker with experience from Europe… the only thing we need to do is pass him the ball and be patient with him.”

The 23-year old is about to create a partnership with a player he has admired for years in 33-year old Pukki. “I know that he’s a good striker from Finland (with their National Team), but I know him from Norwich (Norwich City) in England. He played very well there and I have been watching him since I was young.”

Hlongwane added that he “can’t wait” to play with Pukki, jokingly saying that he will only pass him the ball “if I have to, otherwise I will go score.”

Heath said postgame Saturday that the club will know more Monday morning regarding the paperwork status of Pukki and whether or not his VISA paperwork will arrive in time for him to be on the matchday roster for when they host Austin FC on July 8. Regardless of the paperwork’s status, Pukki will not be able to take the field training with the Loons until the summer transfer window opens on July 5.

More Loon Droppings

Hlongwane has now scored two goals against the Portland Timbers in two meetings this season. The Loons winger scored in a 1-0 victory on the road earlier in the campaign while adding the Loons’ third on the night Saturday evening.

MNUFC winger Emmanuel Iwe made his first appearance as a first-team contracted player, coming off the bench against the Timbers Saturday evening. Iwe signed his MLS contract Friday morning.

The Loons were handed six yellow cards against the Timbers Saturday evening, including one to head coach Adrian Heath and starting defender Michael Boxall. As a result of their yellows, Heath and Boxall are set to be suspended by Major League Soccer due to accumulation, next weekend against Austin FC.

Adrian Heath added that referee Lukasz Szpala apologized to him after handing him a yellow card. “The referee thought that in reflection, that he might have thought he made the wrong decision.”

Up Next: MNUFC hosts Austin FC on Saturday July 8 at Allianz Field followed by a midweek clash on the road against the Houston Dynamo.

By Jacob Schneider

Jacob Schneider is a freelance writer based out of the Twin Cities covering Minnesota United FC. He is a staff writer for, with other work found on & Follow his work on twitter @_JacobSchneider

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