Minnesota United managed to beat a struggling Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening, though the match was closer than it perhaps should have been.
It appears that the 3-5-2 formation is here to stay for United. Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall and Brent Kallman made up the back line while Alexi Gómez and Miguel Ibarra played at wingback. Rasmus Schuller, Collen Warner and Ibson were the midfield and the attacking combination of Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero capped off the XI.
As far as actual chances go, neither team had many of note in the beginning of the game. The Loons debuted a new short corner routine on their first of the game and seemed to be slightly more coordinated in defensive situations.
Neither team were able to score in the first half. The most action came from the halftime tifo moving around the lower bowl.
halTI(FO)me#MINvRSL pic.twitter.com/OJv6Wsnl2U— E Pluribus Loonum (@EPluribusLoonum) July 15, 2018
Just five minutes into the second half, however, the match got a little bit more exciting. Quintero held up play in the box to send a short cross to a wide-open Ibson, who was able to tuck his shot inside the near post with no difficulty.
RSL’s coach, Mike Petke, was extremely unhappy that experienced referee Alan Kelly did not call a foul on Quintero and was ejected for his dissent.
GIF: Here's how #MNUFC's Darwin Quintero cutback on #RSL's Danilo Acosta to set up Ibson's tap-in goal that put Loons up 1-0. pic.twitter.com/ymz3DWBkp1— Andy Greder (@andygreder) July 15, 2018
The game began to open up. Calvo spearheaded a counter attack with a long run up the field, cleanly passing the ball to Quintero along the right sideline. Quintero, brimming with confidence after a hat trick that earned him MLS player of the week honors against Toronto FC, chipped Nick Rimando.
#Darwin Quintero does it AGAIN! He chips Rimando for a #Golazo to double #MNUFC's lead over #RSL! Also great work by Francisco Calvo to win the ball in his own half and carry it forward. 2-0.#MINvRSL #MLS pic.twitter.com/RSyuUKXAP3— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) July 15, 2018
As Jeff Rueter of The Athletic noticed, the goals of the match were following the same pattern of Minnesota’s win over Real Salt Lake last year...
UPDATE:— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) July 15, 2018
2017: #MNUFC goal 52'
MNUFC goal 62'
MNUFC goal 68'
MNUFC goal 52'
MNUFC goal 62'
MNUFC goal 68'
I'm going home. Let me know how this finished. #MINvRSL
And Miguel Ibarra made the dream come true with a goal in the 68th minute.
.@Migue10Ibarra gets on the scoresheet and @MNUFC lead 3-0! #MINvRSL https://t.co/HLMI2dx8GD— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 15, 2018
The visitors pulled one back with a well-hit free kick just after the 75th minute through Joao Plata. (goal conceded off a set piece, btw)
What a hit! @JoaoPlata10 pulls one back for @RealSaltLake. #MINvRSL https://t.co/HU9fNLbYd8— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 15, 2018
Plata scored his second minutes later.
Heath drew some criticism for bringing rookie forward Mason Toye into the game while defending a narrow lead.