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Recap: Loons rally back from two-goal deficit to get a crucial road point at Houston

Minnesota United is the first team to get a point on the road at Houston in 2017.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls, and Columbus Crew all failed in their attempts to get a point on the road at BBVA Compass Stadium so far this season. Minnesota United was able to overcome two first-half injuries that required substitutions and scored two unanswered goals in the second half to tie the Dynamo 2-2, securing the first road point in Houston in 2017.

There’s been some confusion about how the team lined up to start on Saturday as the team’s official twitter feed posted a lineup with the team in a 4-4-2 while it seemed as though the team continued to play mostly in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Rasmus Schuller entered the lineup in place of Bashkim Kadrii but outside of that the lineup was unchanged from the team that lost 2-0 in Dallas.

Things started off less-than-stellar for the Loons yet again as they conceded within the first 20 minutes for the fifth time so far in 2017. Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas was able to deftly corral a hard pass from Erick Torres and then proceeded to turn and fire the ball past Bobby Shuttleworth. The Loons were lucky to not be down 2-0 at that point as Shuttleworth made an important stop one-on-one against Manotas in the 10th minute off a long throw-in.

The Loons seemed to be fired up after conceding as they were able to mount some significant offense against the Dynamo in the fifteen minutes following Manotas’ strike. Kevin Molino was able to play a beautiful long pass in space to Christian Ramirez but Ramirez was unable to put the ball on target and nothing ultimately came from it.

Ramirez and Molino linked up again just two minutes later, where Ramirez looked to be through on goal but was hauled down in the box. Unfortunately for the Loons, the referee decided against awarding a penalty, despite it looking like he would have been warranted to do so.

In the 26th minute, it seemed as if the Loons were destined to remain scoreless on the night as Kevin Molino played an inch-perfect cross towards the back post. Christian Ramirez was in perfect position for a tap-in but it seemed as though he may have overrun the ball as he was unable to tuck it home.

Shortly after Ramirez’s miss, the Dynamo had a goal called back due to offsides. Alberth Elis was able to get on the end of Eric Alexander’s cross after a set piece but he was ruled to be offside when he headed it into the net. Upon further review, this might have been a bad call by the referee, as Elis seemed to be just onside. To be fair, it was difficult to tell and a bang-bang play but this would not be the last we heard from Elis.

After some promising attacking play, the Loons had a brutal end to the first half as they conceded a goal from a free kick, where the defensive marking was nothing short of pathetic. Alberth Elis was able to get on the end of Oscar Boniek Garcia’s free kick and steer it past Shuttleworth. Elis also inadvertently kneed the Loons keeper in the face, to add insult to injury. Shuttleworth appeared to be bleeding from his forehead and was subbed off immediately. Ramus Schuller was subbed off just two minutes prior, and Minnesota United went into the half down 2-0 and having already made two substitutions.

It would have been easy for the Loons to hang their heads and declare that it just wasn’t their night but the team came out of the gates on fire and were able to score a goal off of a corner in the 47th minute. Kevin Molino’s ball into the box found Christian Ramirez’s head and he was able to smash it into the top right of the net. This goal is particularly important because the Minnesota had eight corners against Dallas and had not scored off of a set piece at all in 2017 prior to tonight.

The Loons didn’t stop there, as they continued to press Houston’s backline in an effort to make things happen offensively. They nearly scored on another corner just minutes after Ramirez’s goal, and they eventually were able to equalize in the 59th minute.

Johan Venegas was able to get onto the end of a deflected ball and he was able to corral a bouncing ball and fire it into the back of the net. Upon review, this goal was a lot harder than it seemed at first glance as Venegas was already in a full sprint upon finding the ball at his feet.

Eventually, Houston started mounting an attack, and the Loons defense was called upon multiple times in the final thirty minutes. Brent Kallman did a great job to head away a tantalizing Dynamo cross in the 76th minute. Had Kallman not made an excellent play, Cubo Torres would have had an easy header goal.

Shortly after that, John Alvbage was called upon to make a key save in the 78th minute. The Swedish stopper was able to nimbly dive and block a deflected shot that seemed destined to give Houston a late lead.

The final ten minutes of the match were definitely nervy for both sides, as it was an open attacking game at that point. One simple mistake could have caused either side to lose out on a point when in reality both teams deserved at least one. Alvbage had a couple of important punches that stopped threatening Dynamo attacks, and eventually, the game ended 2-2 after 4 minutes of stoppage time. Abu Danladi made a cameo, coming on in the 90th minute but ultimately failing to make an impact, which is forgivable given his handful of minutes.

All-in-all it was a bit of a sloppy performance from both sides but the Loons will surely be happy that they got a point on the road. Perhaps on another day, Ramirez slots home a few of his missed chances but the team was able to come back from a two-goal deficit regardless.

After the game, manager Adrian Heath said that Bobby Shuttleworth suffered a laceration to his head and potentially has a concussion. He also mentioned that Rasmus Schuller is dealing with a hip flexor injury, and the team should know more about both injuries next week, per Megan Ryan.

Next up for the Loons is a three-game home stand that kicks off next Sunday against the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids are likely to be without starting keeper Tim Howard due to a suspension, which is great news for the Loons as they were able to muster a 2-2 draw earlier this season with Howard in net.