Minnesota United picked up three points and a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over rivals Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. The Loons’ goals came from rookie Abu Danladi, who was given his first start, and Christian Ramirez, who bagged his sixth of the year. Bobby Shuttleworth also anchored the defense with several great saves and the valiant sacrifice of his nose.
The match started off rockily for Minnesota when Ibson forgot which team he played for and passed to Dom Dwyer inside the first minute. The danger was quickly averted, and Christian Ramirez just missed scoring a beautiful goal when his shot dipped into the side netting. The match continued with box-to-box action from both teams. Ramirez picked up a long ball on the right side of the box and whipped in a dangerous cross, but Abu Danladi couldn’t catch up to it. Ibson provided Sporting with a dangerous opportunity just outside the box, but Benny Feilhaber’s low service was kicked out.
The Loons broke through Kansas City’s staunch defense, which had given up just three goals heading into the match, in the 22nd minute. Miguel Ibarra beat Igor Juliao down the left flank and crossed to Danladi, who netted his first professional goal with a beautiful first touch.
Sporting Kansas City began to heat up after the goal with deep possession and several attacking chances, but Minnesota United were next to score. Abu Danladi passed out to Ibarra on the left, and Batman assisted Christian Ramirez’ diving header. Bobby Shuttleworth was called into action with a couple of solid saves, but the Loons carried the lead into halftime.
Sporting looked threatening after the break, but were unable to finish the chances they created. Bobby Shuttleworth put his looks on the line again when he dispossessed Dom Dwyer in the 55th minute. Despite a swollen, bloodied, and reportedly broken nose, the keeper stayed in the game. A few minutes later, Abu Danladi put the ball back in the net just after the hour mark, but the rookie was correctly flagged for offside.
Things looked a little scary for Minnesota when Shuttleworth ran centerback Francisco Calvo over, but both players were okay. Play was stopped in the 71st minute for a brief scuffle between players after Dwyer kicked out the feet of midfielder Sam Cronin. Calvo and Dwyer were cautioned for the incident.
Minnesota bunkered down for the remainder of the game, subbing out Danladi to a standing ovation for defensive midfielder Collen Warner. Jermaine Taylor was also brought in to replace Jerome Thiesson, who missed training yesterday due to illness. Taylor creatively used his thigh to block a rebound when Bobby Shuttleworth’s punch carried him out of position in the 80th minute.
The Loons’ defense continued its immaculate play through eight minutes of stoppage time to the final whistle. With the three points picked up today, Minnesota United currently sits in seventh place with eleven points, just two points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps in the last Western Conference playoff start. Minnesota also sits at 15th in the Supporters’ Shield standings. The Loons face red-hot Toronto FC on the road next Saturday.