Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

Building off the momentum of a Leagues Cup quarterfinal appearance and a road win in New York last weekend, Minnesota United returned to Allianz Field Sunday afternoon looking to continue their positive form and do something not many previous Loons teams have been able to do, beat the Seattle Sounders.

While the overall performance may have been good enough for three points, a defensive lapse and a few missed opportunities in front of net left Minnesota with just a single point following a 1-1 draw.

The Sounders came into this one with just one win in their last three months of play across all competitions, yet still managed to find themselves fourth in the Western Conference table before kickoff. Minnesota, on the other hand, entered the matchup needing points to keep pace right along the playoff line.

“I thought we deserved a little bit more than what we’ve got out of the game,” said MNUFC manager Adrian Heath. “I thought [there were] some really good performances. Obviously, [we] fell asleep a little bit for their goal. But after that, we’ve created numerous, numerous opportunities. And I think we were just about shaded most of the game.”

After Emanuel Reynoso and Joseph Rosales failed to connect on a pair of attacking opportunities early on, Seattle would take full advantage of their first chance.

In the 17th minute, a short clearance from the Loons ended up at the feet of Nico Lodeiro, who then teed up a cross toward an unmarked Yeimar just eight yards from goal. The Sounders’ centerback put away the header and put the visitors up 1-0 just past the quarter-hour mark.

20 minutes later, Minnesota nearly (and probably should have) found an equalizer, as Reynoso drove to the byline and chipped a nice ball over the top to a wide open Michael Boxall inside the six-yard box. The centerback got a clean head to it, but the effort begged over the crossbar, leaving 19,000+ fans inside the stadium in disbelief.

“I just royally fucked that one up,” said Boxall. “Rey [with] the perfect ball in. I just leapt early and your eyes just light up, it feels like you just have so much time, and yeah…just messed it up completely.”

Reynoso, who’s been playing through a nagging right ankle issue in recent weeks, did pull up limping at one point during the first half following a duel with Jordan Morris. The Argentine seemed to jog it off shortly after and there was no activity toward a substitution on Minnesota’s sideline.

Shortly after halftime, the Loons’ star sized up a free kick from outside the box and sent a curling ball into a dangerous area. So dangerous, in fact, Yeimar headed the ball into the back of his own net. The defender scored his 2nd goal of the match, but unfortunately this one was against his own team, and we were all knotted up approaching the hour mark.

In the 68th minute, Hassani Dotson nearly put Minnesota ahead. The American received a pass inside the box from Teemu Pukki and sent a shot on frame, but Stefan Frei was up to the task for Seattle, diving to his left to parry the ball away and keep things level.

It should be noted Dotson played three different positions over the course of the match, starting at right wing, moving to left wing, and eventually dropping into central midfield after Adrian Heath brought on more attacking reinforcements late on.

“Hassani was outstanding again,” said Heath. “He played three positions tonight and he was probably as good as anyone on the field in all three positions.”

The 83rd minute saw a golden opportunity for the home side to break ahead. A corner kick fell right to Mender Garcia seven yards from goal, but the Colombian mishandled the chance and the ball rolled past, to an oncoming Rosales, who sent his shot into the Brew Hall stands. Not long after, Tajouri-Shradi fired a rocket on target from outside the box and Frei reacted quickly to make the diving stop.

In all, the Loons ended with 15 total shots to the Sounders’ six and doubled up the visitors with a 4-2 shots on target advantage. Minnesota racked up 1.48 expected goals, while Seattle finished with 0.73. Not normally a possession-oriented side, the hosts held 54% of the time on the ball.

MNUFC now look ahead to two more matches over the next week, hosting Colorado Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. CT before traveling west to take on San Jose Saturday, September 2nd at 9:30 p.m. CT. Both matches can be found on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.

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