A largely defenseless Minnesota United fell to the visiting Columbus Crew in Independence Day action, 1-0. The Loons looked uninspired for much of the match, failing to greatly threaten the Crew. The lone goal of the match came from Kekuta Manneh of Columbus in the 58th minute.
Adrian Heath was left without many options for his starting lineup. The Loons lined up in a 5-4-1 formation. Joseph Greenspan returned from a concussion to get his first MLS start, while Abu Danladi started on the left side over Miguel Ibarra. Minnesota only used a six-player bench. Midfielder Sam Cronin wore the captain’s armband for the first time this season.
#MINvCLB pic.twitter.com/cFsfaEVQqA— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) July 4, 2017
Minnesota United began the first half in the exact defensive manner suggested by their formation. Columbus easily maintained possession in the first quarter of an hour, but never looked too dangerous. Things began to open up for the Loons on the wings, but a lack of a central attacking presence rendered crosses useless.
The best opportunity for Minnesota came in the 37th minute, when a long ball over the top of the Crew defense found Christian Ramirez. Ramirez had a great chance to rocket the ball into the net, but mishit his shot, which hooked left. United continued to look rather uninspired for the rest of the half.
Adrian Heath made a savvy tactical adjustment at the break, switching to a 4-2-3-1 by moving Ish Jome to an attacking midfielder. The change had an immediate effect on the Loons as they began to maintain segments of attacking possession. Ibson placed a free kick perfectly in the 56th minute, but it was saved by keeper Zack Steffen.
The match took a turn for the worse a couple of minutes later. Columbus’ Kekuta Manneh was given a plethora of time and space, and made Minnesota’s defenders regret their costly error. His shot from distance left Bobby Shuttleworth without a chance.
The goal came completely against the run of play, but proved to be enough to earn the Crew three points.
Ish Jome and Ibson were exchanged for Miguel Ibarra and Bashkim Kadrii during the second-half hydration break. In the next minutes, the Crew’s substitute Justin Meram had two narrow misses, keeping the Loons in the game. Minnesota native Ethan Finlay fired a shot across the face of the goal in the 90th minute.
Minnesota finally showed some signs of urgency in stoppage time, peppering the Columbus box with crosses. The quantity of passes into the enemy 18 were satisfactory, but the potency of those opportunities left something to be desired. After a few moments of testiness between the two teams, the referee blew his whistle three times.
Manager Adrian Heath wasn’t happy with his side’s performance. “I thought it was a poor goal to give away,” shared Heath, “I thought it was going to be a 1-0 game all [game].”
Minnesota United has a break in league action until the Houston Dynamo come to TCF Bank on July 19th to avenge a 2-2 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium earlier in the season. The Loons host Mexican side Club Atlas in a friendly on the 15th.