The Colorado Rapids were far from full strength on Sunday evening, with goalkeeper Tim Howard out serving a suspension alongside other injuries and absences.
Adrian Heath deployed a lineup capable of taking advantage of Colorado. Ibson replaced Collen Warner in midfield while Miguel Ibarra received a well-earned start on the left wing. The most notable part of the lineup was keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who was in concussion protocol during the week after a nasty collision last match, starting in goal.
A bandaged Shuttleworth was called into action in just the third minute but he pulled off one of his now typical diving saves. The Loons struggled to find gaps in the Rapids’ back line, never putting together a threatening effort in the first half. Colorado took to the wings for their attack. Their best opportunity could very well have come from a Kevin Doyle bicycle kick, but the forward biked the ball straight into his own arm. The match went into halftime scoreless, resulting in two consecutive halves in which Minnesota United didn’t concede.
The match continued in the same uninteresting way it went in the first half until Kevin Molino fired a rocket at Colorado’s keeper Zac MacMath. Tim Howard’s backup mishandled the save and Christian Ramirez almost caught up to the rebound, but defender Kortne Ford cleared the ball moments before Superman could reach it. Minnesota caught a lucky break seven minutes later when Dominique Badji hit the crossbar off an open goal. Bobby Shuttleworth was able to scramble across the goal and scoop up the second effort. Ramirez’ header at the other end moments later was batted over the goal by MacMath’s arm.
Brent Kallman, after a couple awkward landings, limped off in the 66th minute to make way for Jermaine Taylor.
Minnesota United finally broke through Colorado’s defense in the 72nd minute. Ibson put a beautiful half-volley on target from a clearance, forcing Zac MacMath to tip the Brazilian’s shot off the post. The rebound bounced to Johan Venegas, whose diving header flew across the face of the goal. In came an airborne Miguel Ibarra, who put the ball squarely in the back of the net with a second diving header.
Adrian Heath opted to make the tactical switch to a 5-4-1 in the 85th minute. Justin Davis came on for Kevin Molino to play at left wing-back and rookie Abu Danladi replaced Ibarra on the right flank. The final minutes of the match passed without much incident, Minnesota’s defense coming together to promptly clear any loose balls in the box.
Miguel “Batman” Ibarra’s first MLS goal stole the show at TCF Bank Stadium as Minnesota United earned their first-ever clean sheet in Major League Soccer with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
The Loons are home again next Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Let’s go you Loons!!