Minnesota United FC had been on a five match away trip prior to tonight's homecoming against the Portland Timbers. The Loons managed a mere two points in those five matches, which ultimately doomed any hope they had of being a playoff team. However, that does not mean that the Loons wouldn’t enter a match without giving their all; and tonight they proved that. 10 man Minnesota came out on top with a 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers. Goals came courtesy of Romario Ibarra(2x) and Michael Boxall.
Adrian Heath rolled out with a lineup consisting of no striker, and in place he put attacker Romario Ibarra. Along with Romario, Eric Miller returned to the lineup at fullback.
On Kick Childhood Cancer night, the Wonderwall supporter’s section debuted their tifo for the match which depicted Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox standing over Timber Joey.
The match kicked off with a flurry of movement, loud cheers from the crowd and a charismatic sunset in the background. It was quite a seen overlooking the skyline setting on TCF Bank stadium.
Portland opened up the attacking scene with a driven shot from Andy Polo in the 2nd minute, but Shuttleworth was there to collect. Darwin Quintero, who won the Man-Of-The-Match award, followed up with a shot of his own in the fifth minute. Within the opening five minutes, those who were in attendance and in the crowd could sense the urgency and pressure both sides were playing with. Tonight's first half was arguably the best half of soccer that Minnesota has played since late July against Los Angeles F.C. and the scoreline relayed that. In the 17th minute, the Loons opened up the scoring through Romario Ibarra. Fernando Bob played a marvelous ball to Darwin Quintero who then passed the ball across the six yard box towards Romario who slotted the ball home. Romario then added another goal 17 minutes later in the 35th minute, but as he took the shot the earned him his brace, he pulled up on what appeared to be his hamstring. The attacker was forcibly subbed off due to the injury, and he was replaced by Angelo Rodriguez.
“He showed us glimpses of what he’s about” said head coach Adrian Heath “obviously it was a blow, him going off, because the fact was that he could stretch the field so much for us and that gave Darwin all the room in the world to play.”
Michael Boxall added a third goal in the 42nd minute off of a rocketing volley. Rumor has it, that shot had a power level over 9,000. The halftime whistle eventually blew, and the squad headed in after what was a stellar half of soccer.
Portland rolled out of the gates in the second half with a lot of pace and momentum, they had two shots on target in the opening four minutes through Armenteros and then Cascante. In the 54th minute, Alvas Powell scored a goal-of-the-week contender to bring Portland within two.
Minnesota countered numerous times, and they thought their luck came through with a chip from Quintero in the 72nd minute. Quintero broke free on a through ball and lobbed it over goalkeeper Steve Clark, however, the ball ricocheted off the front of the crossbar. A near wonder-goal was cancelled out by the crossbar for the second time in the match, after Miguel Ibarra hit the woodwork in the first half.
Following Quintero’s miss, Sebastian Blanco brought Portland within a single goal in the 79th minute.
Minnesota outlasted a fantastic comeback by a really talented Portland side and they should walk away with their heads held high. However, there were some consequences that will have lasting effects into next week’s match. Fernando Bob was issued a straight red for an elbow to the face of Diego Valeri while Luiz Fernando “Maximiano” received his fifth yellow card of the season which results in a 1-match suspension. “I thought Fernando Bob and Maxi bossed the midfield” said Heath. “One door closes, it’s always for somebody else. 1 or 2 people have been knocking on my door telling me they should be on the team - maybe they’ll get a chance next week to show me.” was Heath’s response to not having either midfielder for next weekend’s clash with New York City F.C.
- Heath mentioned we will know more about Romario’s injury on Monday.
- Fernando Bob and Maximiano will both be out for next weekend’s clash.
- Angelo Rodriguez played 55 minutes today and seemed to be perfectly healthy.
- Bertrand Owundi E’ko played 45 minutes for the Charlotte Independence in the USL.
- Mason Toye played 61 minutes for Switchbacks FC in the USL.
- Carter Manley did not make the 18 for LasVegas in their match tonight.