Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

A road win is ALWAYS a good thing, right?

Minnesota United went to Citi Field in Queens, NY Sunday night and came away 2-0 victors over NYCFC in the return to MLS play for both teams following the past month’s Leagues Cup. While any team in any league will take a multi-goal victory away from home, this one came with a potential price for the Loons.

Late in the first half, crucial winger Bongokuhle Hlongwane was forced to leave the match with a knee issue, while Emanuel Reynoso left the match prematurely as a precaution, according to Adrian Heath.

“[Hlongwane] said he felt his knee,” said Heath. “Everything will be inflamed so we’ll have a better idea when we get back and we have a look at him [Monday]. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious. We took Rey off. He has not trained, he’s had a bad ankle most of the week. With the [yellow card] booking, I didn’t want to get him to do anything silly and getting a red card.”

Hlongwane was replaced by a re-debuting Jan Gregus, who was traded back to Minnesota during the summer transfer window but couldn’t feature for the squad during Leagues Cup as he was “cup-tied” to Nashville, and it wouldn’t take long for the Slovakian to make his presence felt.

Just after halftime, Gregus found himself with time and space outside the middle of the 18-yard box. The midfielder took the opportunity to take a dribble and fire a 25-yarder. The shot took a deflection off of James Sands and found the back of the net for an all-important opener.

“It was a slight deflection and very glad that it went behind the goalkeeper,” said Gregus. “It was good.”

A big reason for maintaining the lead was the play in goal from Dayne St. Clair. The goalkeeper made a handful of crucial saves on the night, none more important than in the 83rd minute. Mitja Illenic sent a dangerous ball across goal that deflected off the foot of Michael Boxall and looked destined for an own goal. However, St. Clair was quick to react and made a diving stop to preserve the advantage for Minnesota.

Two minutes later, the hosts thought they had a penalty kick opportunity after Miguel Tapias was whistled for a foul in the box on Julian Fernandez. However, a VAR would show there was no contact made and Fernandez went to the ground to try and sell the foul. The decision was overruled, but there was no discipline for the dive by Fernandez.

Late in stoppage time, the Loons put the nail in NYCFC’s coffin, as Ismael Tajouri-Shradi played Mender Garcia in on goal with a perfectly timed pass. The Colombian did well to finish the opportunity and seal the 2-0 road win.

“It’s been a good team effort,” said Heath. “Six wins now [on the road] joint-most in the league and that’s something we can be proud of so it gives us a good chance.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: