Minnesota United was unable to hold on to a draw Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT, as Yura Movsisyan’s late goal gave the home team a deserved victory.
A mere once-over of the stat sheet says it all for tonight’s tilt as Real Salt Lake outshot Minnesota United by a margin of 29-5. The home team was able to get a whopping nine shots on target against United backstop Bobby Shuttleworth while Minnesota had one single shot on target themselves. MNUFC’s attack has looked anemic over the past couple of weeks as they’ve now gone three full games without finding the scoresheet.
The only thing that kept Minnesota United in the game tonight was the stellar play of Bobby Shuttleworth who somehow managed to make eight saves tonight. Despite his heroic effort, the Loons’ keeper ended up costing the team the game late as he had a routine ball squirt through his grasp for an easy tap-in which served as the only tally for either side. It’s hard to pin the blame on him tonight, however, given the fact that the offense looked as if they were playing together for the first time as they were unable to threaten the opposition at all.
Minnesota United’s lineup featured most of their normal starting eleven with one key difference – right back Kevin Venegas got a surprise start due to the fact that Marc Burch was a late scratch. Johan Venegas also picked up an injury on international duty with Costa Rica and was a late scratch as well. As a result of Burch and J. Venegas being unable to go late, the Loons were left with just five available substitutes. According to 55.1’s Jeff Rueter, the Loons generally only fly the 18 players that make their match day roster to away games, so they were unable to use their two empty bench spots as they did not have any extra players with the team.
The first twenty minutes of the game went by without either team stringing together a particularly threatening attack. MNUFC out possessed RSL by 15 percent over the opening 15 minutes but the Loons were unable to muster up a shot early. Real Salt Lake ended up with the first scoring chance of the game as Luis Silva found himself wide open in the box but Bobby Shuttleworth robbed the RSL striker of a sure goal with an excellent reflex save.
Silva had yet another bonafide scoring chance just minutes later as he was able to steal the ball from a Loons defender and was able to round Shuttleworth. Sam Cronin was able to play the role of hero as he made an inch-perfect tackle to deny Silva of what should have been a tap-in goal. Shuttleworth was called upon once again with about ten minutes left in the half when Kyle Beckerman hit a low shot which Shuttleworth was able to get a piece of. This save was particularly pleasing as the Loons backstop struggled with low shots at times during his tenure with the Revolution.
The two sides went into the half deadlocked at 0-0 after an uninspired spell that lasted for the last 15 minutes of play. Minnesota United was only able to assemble one single shot on target, which was a lobbed longshot by Ibarra which floated directly into Nick Rimando’s chance. Had it not been for Bobby Shuttleworth’s solid half, the Loons could have easily trailed by two after the first 45.
Real Salt Lake nearly pulled ahead just three minutes into the first half when Jefferson Savarino took a shot from a tricky angle. His shot was on frame and beat Bobby Shuttleworth but the ball ended up hitting the crossbar and staying out. Minnesota United mounted their first real attack of the second half moments later as Sam Cronin sprung Abu Danladi in the box but Danladi was unable to settle the ball enough to get a good shot attempt.
RSL continued to put pressure on the Loons defense for the rest of the half, and it looked as though the home team was about to take the lead with just 13 minutes left to play. A bouncing ball found its way to Luke Mulholland at the top of the box, and the RSL midfielder hit a fantastic volley on frame. Shuttleworth was able to make an acrobatic save to deny Mulholland, a save that we are likely to see as a Save of the Week candidate.
Things finally came undone for the visitors in the 84th minute when RSL had an attacking corner after a Kevin Venegas touchline clearance. Joao Plata’s corner found Justen Glad’s head and the ball appeared to come off of a Minnesota defender’s arm. The ball made its way into Bobby Shuttleworth’s grasp but he was unable to secure the ball and it squirted out onto the feet of Yura Movsisyan. The former Armenian International had a wide open net as Shuttleworth was still on the ground and he tucked it into the net with ease, sinking any chance the Loons had at salvaging a road point.
Tonight’s performance was particularly deflating due to the fact that the Loons had previously beat RSL and tonight’s game represented a winnable road game. MNUFC are still winless on the road and have been shut out in three out of their last five road games.
On top of all of that, this was one of the team’s worst offensive showings since making the jump to MLS. The attack was unable to provide service for target man Christian Ramirez and the team’s high-profile duo of Kevin Molino and Miguel Ibarra both were invisible. Manager Adrian Heath has his work cut out for him as his team is clearly out of form but faces four games in the next 16 days against Portland, Vancouver, NYCFC and Columbus. This upcoming stretch is sure to be a barometer for how the rest of the season will play out.