All across the field tonight, Minnesota United were not good enough. After clawing a goal back to bring the score to 1-1, the Loons collapsed and gave up two goals in quick succession before the half, followed by a red card and another goal after the break. The scoreline flatters the Loons as it could have been a shellacking we haven’t seen in the post-Demidov Era, and there were a few nice moments for Minnesota. Those moments too often ended in a bad giveaway, too much dribbling, or a pass that was half a step off of the runner. It didn’t click early in the game for the Loons and the couldn’t get anything going in time to slow down SKC.
Too many individual mistakes:
While Gomez will take a lot of the flack from the first half, he wasn’t the only one that got burned. There were several times all over the field where MNUFC players either got outnumbered, dribbled too much, or took poor angles to the ball. The fourth goal was a direct result of Ibson taking a poor angle on Ilie 45 yards for goal only to have him slide past and play the ball forward. For a defense predicated on positioning and strength in numbers, that’s a bad mistake that strains the rest of the team and in that case it broke.
Lack of adaptation:
I had in my game notes and Adrian Heath mentioned in his post game talk that Zusi was getting too much space on the right to play the ball in. This was painfully apparent early in the game and was only slightly curtailed as the game went on, more due to SKC letting off the gas than brilliant defensive tactics. Gerso or Lobato would tuck inside to occupy a player and Zusi would overlap with great effect. The plan at halftime was to bring on Maximiano to solidify the midfield, but at that point it was too little, too late. The easiest answer would have been to avoid the slow start, but in lieu of that Minnesota must get better at adapting before they are two goals down. For the 15 minutes he was on the pitch, Maximiano helped to lock down the midfield. First half substitutions aren’t always a great idea, but some sort of tactical change is good. The one noticeable change in the first half was Ibarra and Gomez swapping wings, but that didn’t have much of an impact on pinning back Zusi. It wasn’t until after the 70th minute when Heath started bringing on subs that Minnesota began to experiment with the attack, rotating Danladi, Ibarra, Quintero, and Pangop through the attacking positions.
Kallman was good today:
In a game where the Loons looked toothless and disorganized, it would have been easy for Brent Kallman to get overrun. This was his 4th appearance of the year and only his second start, the first being the 3-0 loss to RB New York. Zusi finished the night with a game high 121 touches, many of those ending in crosses. Subsequently, many of those crosses ended on the head or foot of Brent Kallman. His positioning was excellent throughout the night and he made sure that the high balls forward from SKC were’t able to be settled cleanly. His 1-on-1 defending in the box was better than most for the Loons and he toed the line between physical but legal, and conceding a penalty. My only gripe about his performance, and he mentioned that this was a big issue with the teams performance tonight, was that too many clearances didn’t get past the umbrella. Ilie, Espinoza, and Wan Kuzain set up on the edge of the box and had too easy of job picking of loose balls after they were dealt with by Kallman and Co. His self awareness was positive, but it doesn’t matter if they can’t cut that out of the game by Wednesday’s Open Cup clash in Cincinatti.
There is lots to talk about from this game, but ultimately Minnesota weren’t good enough and lost to a very good Sporting KC team in one of the hardest places to play in in MLS. On Wednesday they will take on MLS 2019 newcomers Cincinatti before getting a few weeks off during the World Cup. Kallman showed that he is a capable deputy(and maybe should have been starting sooner), but the rest of the Loons will need to pick up their game in they don’t want to be bounced from the Open Cup.