A floundering Minnesota United turned the tables on a struggling Real Salt Lake side, picking up three points in momentous fashion.
Manager Adrian Heath decided a 4-2-3-1 was the best course of action. Johan Venegas (Costa Rica), Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago), and captain Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) all returned to the lineup from international duty. Heath also elected to start Brent Kallman in central defense and Ibson in midfield.
The match began in typical fashion for the Loons, who conceded a goal inside the first five minutes for the third time this season. A botched clearance from Francisco Calvo fell directly to the feet of former Minnesota Stars midfielder Luke Mulholland who found the back of Bobby Shuttleworth’s net.
An injury to Real Salt Lake defender Aaron Maund in the 14th minute caused the visitors to play with only one centerback. Minnesota pressed the advantage, and Kevin Molino delivered a fantastic equalizer. Johan Venegas dribbled deep into the box, nutmegged a defender and threaded a cross through the goal area. The ball took a deflection off of RSL’s Chris Wingert, only for a charging Molino to rocket a header past a diving Nick Rimando.
Bobby Shuttleworth made two terrific saves in the first half to keep the score level. The keeper was quick enough off his line to keep Yura Movsisyan from working his magic, and made an extended diving save to rob the Armenian of a goal later in the first half. The Minnesota backline was tested late in the half by an attacking Real Salt Lake who peppered the box with crosses, but the Loons managed quality clearances (though Shuttleworth had to bail them out on an occasion) to avert danger. Just before halftime, a Bashkim Kadrii cross forced Nick Rimando into an uncomfortable save, but Francisco Calvo’s header on the ensuing corner bounced just over the crossbar.
Minnesota United came out of the break firing on all cylinders, with Kadrii spraying in a multitude of dangerous crosses from the left flank. Christian Ramirez passed the ball off to Kevin Molino, who threaded the ball through a split Real Salt Lake defense to Ramirez. Superman wasted no time in putting a clinical finish over Rimando to break the deadlock.
The floodgates were opened even further in the 62nd minute. United States Mens’ National Team goalkeeper Nick Rimando bobbled the ball off of his chest and lost it behind him. Christian Ramirez was there to take the ball and easily secure his second goal of the night.
Another defensive error just six minutes later by RSL proved to be costly. Kevin Molino was able to dispossess Justin Schmidt and pass to a wide-open Johan Venegas, who calmly notched his first goal of the season.
Another fine save by Bobby Shuttleworth kept the score at 4-1 in favor of the Loons, and Kevin Molino almost scored a fifth for the expansion side. He bottled a shot over the goal in a one-on-one with Rimando in a rare mistake from the attacker. Christian Ramirez was given a standing ovation from the roughly 17,000 fans as he was replaced by rookie Abu Danladi. The first round SuperDraft selection nearly scored just seconds later, but lost the ball in the box.
As perfect as the match was, Real Salt Lake sneaked a late second goal behind Shuttleworth in the 87th minute. Yura Movsisyan blew past Justin Davis to score for the losing side.
Minnesota United captured their first ever victory in MLS in amazing fashion. Adrian Heath, Kevin Molino, and Ramirez spoke after the match of how much the result meant to them as supporters serenaded the victorious Loons with a glorious rendition of “Wonderwall”.