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Recap: Abysmal defense ends Loons’ rally attempt in Vancouver

Five goals were scored in the second half, with only two belonging to Minnesota. So much went wrong for the Loons.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, Vancouver cheated. Before you react to that stunning accusation, let me explain how: Bayern Munich, 28x German Championship winners, 18x DFB Super Cup Champions and 5x UEFA Champions League winners share a stadium sponsor with Minnesota United FC in the corporation of Allianz. Allianz sponsors Munich’s stadium in Germany and they will also be the sponsor of our stadium that is currently in the process of being built. Automatically, that should make us friends and allies, right? Wrong, apparently. I mean, come on guys - what you pulled is just not cool. Bayern Munich, our Allianz “ally” loaned out one of their star studded wingers to Vancouver. They loaned out Alphonso Davies to Vancouver, and not us. Not cool, “friends.” There is one positive though, we still have our Allianz Friends in Italy. Juventus, our Italian pals, said they’re going to give us this Ronaldo guy once his contract runs out there (probably?).

Vancouver ended up with the favorable result, managing to slot 4 goals past the Minnesota United defense. Minnesota mounted a late comeback, scoring two goals in the last fifteen minutes but they couldn’t make the magic happen. Adrian Heath started the match with the same starting XI from last weekend minus Alexi Gomez, who was replaced by Eric Miller.

The Loons entered the match after an ecstatic and wonderful result last weekend against LAFC. United won that match 5-1 and it cemented their feet into their three match winning streak; their first since NASL. That was the first time they also put up five goals in a match since NASL, and it was a thrilling moment. Tonight, however, was not. Vancouver became the 8th opponent that MNUFC have faced this season to score at least three goals against them; an unacceptable result. The Loons fell to 1-9 on the road this season, which is simply not good enough for any sort of playoff run. The results at home of late have been great, and they created a large sense of momentum heading into tonight as well. Where did that momentum go, is a question that must be asked of the starting XI. From the opening minute, it looked as if there were tired legs agape everywhere as well as there being zero communication whatsoever. The lack of communication however, was extremely visible on the back three of Calvo, Kallman and Boxall. Wingbacks Miguel Ibarra and Eric Miller did not have their best nights either, but most of tonight's goals from Vancouver went through the middle or top of the box; hence the emphasis on the back three.

The Vancouver Goals:

1.) Yordy Reyna opened up the scoring for Vancouver with a picturesque placement into the lower corner. The shot was fantastic, the dribble was sublime and the celebration gets an A too, everything about the goal for Vancouver was fantastic. Minnesota however, what on earth were you doing? Watch the goal and count with me, 1-2-3-4-5. FIVE defenders. That is how many players Reyna dribbled past, across the top of the box, before he got his shot off. Eric Miller could have tracked back better, but this one lies on the back three. Michael Boxall is beaten immediately and Brent Kallman then tries to softly toe poke the ball away. That does nothing, at all, to help get the ball away from the attacker. Francisco Calvo was the last man to be beaten, and it’s almost as if he jumps over the ball when he’s about to shoot. Why does he do that? I have no idea, do not, and I repeat, do not ask me.

2.) This goal was simply just world class from Alphonso Davies. The kid is truly something special, and we witnessed a break out performance tonight from a future star. The dribble to get past Kallman and Calvo was simply picturesque. The one question surrounding this goal however is: Ibson, what on earth were you thinking? In what world does a backheel make sense while you are in your own half, being chased by a Whitecaps player. The Brazilian needs to hold himself accountable in situations like those; you cannot be pulling stuff like that and expect to be starting next week. Adrian Heath needs to take a cold hard look at the midfielders performance tonight, because it was not good. Ibson can be one of the best players on the field at times, and his experience around the world is so so valuable to the squad. The thing is, you cannot risk him anymore; he is 35 years old and his legs are not getting any younger. He is not at the age where he can be tracking up and down the field constantly while also being able to be aware of his surroundings and all of the players around him. It simply just does not happen. Whether or not that means we need to make another signing to take his spot, I do not know, but, something needs to change. You have Collin Martin, Maximiano, Romario, Frantz Pangop and Harrison Heath to fill that role - It is up to you if you think any of them can step up and claim that spot, Adrian.

3.) Again, a fantastic team goal from Vancouver! Alphonso Davies connects brilliantly with Kei Kamara to slot this one home and give his side a 3-0 lead. So, so much went wrong for Minnesota on this one. I have no idea whatsoever they were trying to do, maybe it was some sort of training ground tactic that went horribly wrong, but it went horribly wrong. They brought up Calvo and Boxall for the throw in, and everybody thought there was about to be a long distance throw into the box considering Kallman was all alone at the half line. That would be the logical move to make, but, nope. We threw it short, and Schuller turned with the ball, lost it, and Boom! Vancouver counter and lay it home. Way too easy for the home side, way too easy. Brent Kallman tried his best to back-track, but the speed of both big men up top was too much for him. Simply put, this was abysmal. This play as a whole summed up Minnesota’s evening and it really just highlighted all of the weaknesses we have in our squad.

4.) Vancouver’s fourth goal was the dagger. It came in the 89th minute, and who else? Alphonso Davies again. The 17 year old was simply unstoppable tonight, and it was a masterclass display. The goal came after Minnesota scored once in the 82nd through
Ibson and then again by Danladi in the 87th. A comeback was on the ropes for Minnesota, but, again, the defensive lapse tonight made it way too easy for Vancouver. Davies dribbled along the top of the box again, beating, count with me - 1-2-3-4. FOUR Minnesota players. Collin Martin’s ankles were put to shame on this play, but Kallman and Calvo were absolutely obliterated as well. Davies footwork was incredible, but a simple toe poke that makes connection with the ball would have been enough to ruin his run and possibly make a stop on the play. The little things that could have happened tonight, didn’t happen, and Vancouver ended up on top. There is not much else to say; there was a strong lack of communication that was accompanied by lackluster effort from the 45th minute until the 80th minute.

After tonight’s result, Vancouver jumped ahead of Minnesota in the Western Conference rankings. The fight for the final playoff spot will be one of the closest/most difficult there has ever been to date. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place are all still up for grabs, as there is only a 6 point gap between 3rd and 8th place in the Western Conference. Minnesota was bumped down to 8th place tonight, but they are very much so in the playoff race. To continue being in the playoff race however, they must learn to win on the road. 1 win in 9 on the road is simply unacceptable and it needs to be addressed. You cannot hope to be a playoff team without winning on the road, that is just a simple fact.

Moving forward

  • Minnesota features again next weekend at home against the Seattle Sounders and their newest designate player, Raul Ruidiaz. The match is a must-win if they want to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, especially considering they have a five game road trip starting after the Seattle game.
  • Adrian heath noted in his post-game Press-conference that the club is still looking to make moves within the transfer window, and presumably, they will be in the midfield and defense.
  • Romario Ibarra played thirty eight minutes tonight, coming on in the 67th minute for Eric Miller. The newly acquired Ecuadorian seemed to boast some pace as well as some cheeky footwork. It is possible the winger could feature more heavily next weekend against Seattle. Along with Romario, next weekend could be the debut of Minnesota’s newest designated player Angelo Rodriguez. The Colombian arrived this past Wednesday and he cannot wait to take the pitch.