For the second year in a row, Minnesota United were the first MLS club to pay a visit to a sold-out Providence Park to face the Portland Timbers. The Loons, thanks in part to the injection of Darwin Quintero, didn’t repeat last year’s 5-1 drubbing. Nonetheless, it was a couple of nervy moments that cost Minnesota in the end.
Minnesota’s starting lineup grabbed attention across the league as new Designated Player Darwin Quintero received a starting spot. He replaced Sam Nicholson, who missed some time in training over the bye week due to illness, in the eleven. Marc Burch was a starter for the second game in a row due to Tyrone Mears’s continued calf problems. Jerome Thiesson returned to the starting XI.
The match started well enough for the Loons. Minnesota put the pressure on the hosts with some up tempo attacks that were eventually answered by swift counters from the Timbers. Portland looked more and more comfortable as the game developed.
Minnesota’s perennial breakdown began in the 20th minute when Alvas Powell beat Francisco Calvo and Burch on the left side of defense. Powell managed to squeeze the ball between goalkeeper Matt Lampson and the near post to put Portland ahead.
Powell sparked another productive sequence barely three minutes later. This time it was Diego Valeri who put a firm shot past Lampson.
It almost seemed as though the Loons had an answer to the Timbers goal. A dazzling sequence between Thiesson, Quintero, and Ethan Finlay resulted in Miguel Ibarra putting the ball in the back of the net, but a VAR review correctly determined that he was offside.
Portland didn’t relent as the first half continued, forcing a difficult save out of Lampson and pinging a shot off the crossbar.
Manager Adrian Heath made a necessary tactical change at the break to bring on rookie Carter Manley for Marc Burch, switching Thiesson to the left side.
The Loons came out of the locker rooms with a new energy and repeated pushes for the Timbers’ net. A missed bicycle kick for Quintero and fantastic save by goalkeeper Jake Gleeson kept Minnesota scoreless.
But Quintero, who was only supposed to play 60 or so minutes, stayed on past his bedtime and made his time count with a stellar solo effort to put United back into the game.
.@darwinJR3 on his debut! #PORvMIN https://t.co/BykQoWpEF8— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 15, 2018
The second half only got crazier. A bouncing volley from Adi made it past Lampson, who dove too early in the wrong direction. The Timbers almost added a fourth, but VAR disallowed a second goal, this time in the favor of Minnesota.
The Loons were gifted their second goal when Abu Danladi’s pressure forced an own goal from Portland.
The end-to-end action continued through stoppage time as Minnesota piled on pressure but fell short.
Minnesota United will be back in Cascadia next weekend when the Loons face the Seattle Sounders.