The two sides met for the fourth time ever at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and the visiting Earthquakes ran away with their fourth win over the Loons. Two penalties proved to be the difference as a golazo from Christian Ramirez couldn’t answer San Jose’s play.
Manager Adrian Heath opted for what would be widely considered the Loons’ best starting lineup. Forward Christian Ramirez returned to the top of the typical 4-2-3-1 after two games out of action. Peruvian winger Alexi Gomez maintained his role on the left side of the attack, while fullback Eric Miller also received another start. The only real surprise of the matchday squad was that goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who was the starter at the beginning of the season, was replaced by Alex Kapp.
The match got off to what may have been the worst possible start. Left-back Jerome Thiesson left his leg dragging on a challenge on San Jose’s Magnus Eriksson and referee Victor Rivas correctly called a penalty. Eriksson converted the spot kick to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
For a team that should by now be very used to losing in the first half, the Loons remarkably struggled to find a rhythm in the early parts of the first half. After nearly half an hour of shaky play, Minnesota found an equalizer. Ramirez capitalized on a poor turnover from San Jose to rocket the ball into the top corner, levelling the score.
Ramirez came close to giving his side the lead about ten minutes later. A deflection from an Earthquakes defender put the forward through to a one-on-one with goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, but Ramirez’s shot slammed into the crossbar.
Minnesota were clearly the better team in the second half. Extended spells of posession and crossing proved to be nothing more than threats. Just when the Loons were poised to take the lead, the Earthquakes were put back out in front. Chris Wondolowski squeezed a cross to Danny Hoesen, who made no mistake in firing the loose ball into the back of United’s net.
Minnesota’s chances of a comeback were further complicated when San Jose was awarded another penalty kick for an obvious handball by Francisco Calvo in the box. Rookie forward Mason Toye, whose red card against the Vancouver Whitecaps nearly jeopardized the Loons’ chances of victory, and winger Frantz Pangop were both brought into the game in the hopes of providing an attacking spark.
Minnesota will be back in action next Sunday at 1:00pm to face Sporting Kansas City at home.