We, the haters, have been silenced by one Christian Ramirez.
The striker led the way for Minnesota United as the Loons edged out the visiting New England Revolution 2-1.
Manager Adrian Heath elected to make no changes to his entire match day squad from the Loons’ 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Romario Ibarra, who arrived in Minnesota this week, was not on the bench.
Christian Ramirez made a certain writer here at E Pluribus Loonum (hint, you’re reading his work right now) feel awfully sheepish. Ramirez picked up a misplaced header in the New England half and chipped goalkeeper Matt Turner in the fifth minute to earn his team an early lead and fans in the stadium free drinks at Surly Brewing Company.
The Loons continued to apply attacking pressure in the early minutes. Though midfield play was occasionally off, United’s defense held fast thanks to Bobby Shuttleworth and Brent Kallman. Referee JC Rivero did not endear himself to the home fans with a sequence of fouls called against Minnesota, including a yellow card for an enraged Francisco Calvo.
Darwin Quintero added himself to the scoresheet in first half stoppage time. The on-form DP dribbled his way almost to the end line before finishing from a tight angle.
A decent start to the second half was marred just after the 50-minute mark. A bad tackle from Alexi Gómez earned a penalty for the Revolution, and Shuttleworth went down on the play. Despite a raucous ovation, Diego Fagundez converted the PK to pull one back. As boos continued to ring around the stadium, the game took on a chipper tone as both Quintero and New England’s Jalil Anibaba picked up yellows for a coming together.
Miguel Ibarra picked up a yellow card for time wasting shortly after the one-hour mark. The Revolution continued to attack, though United’s defense managed to keep the threats at bay. Ramirez took another shot at chipping Turner, but the effort bounced wide. Ramirez came close to finishing another just minutes later.
Eric Miller replaced Ramirez with about 15 minutes to go, reverting formation to the previous standby of 4-2-3-1. Just after, Shuttleworth made two game-saving saves (see what we did there) to maintain the lead.
United had opened up a large section of the upper bowl for the match which was used to accommodate the crowd of over 27,000, partly due to the massive USA Cup youth soccer tournament in progress at the National Sports Center.
Darwin Quintero left the game to a standing ovation in second-half stoppage time. Mason Toye was his replacement.
The Loons are back at home to face expansion club Los Angeles Football Club on Sunday at 6pm.