Even though last weekend’s match against the Portland Timbers marked Minnesota United’s return home from an extended road trip, Saturday’s 2-1 victory over visiting New York City FC marked a homecoming of a different sort for several players.
Alexi Gomez, Jérôme Thiesson, Collen Warner and Rasmus Schuller all returned to the starting lineup for the Loons.
Warner and Schuller filled in for defensive Fernando Bob and Maximiano, who missed the match due to suspensions for a red card and yellow card accumulation, respectively. “I thought they were terrific,” said manager Adrian Heath.
There was some concern over whether or not Schuller would be able to play. “We had to give Ras a fitness test before the game as well,” explained Heath. “You know, we managed to keep that quiet, but he came through. It was one of his best performances of the season actually.”
Schuller said he picked up a knock in Friday’s training session but it was “no problem” during the match.
NYCFC’s stoppage time goal created a fair amount of confusion among players and fans. There appeared to be an offside infraction on the loose ball, and the referee spent an extended period of time listening to the Video Assistant Referee’s advice, but eventually awarded the goal.
“I’m not sure,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. “I’ve heard that it was offsides, but I’ll have to watch it back and see. But from everything I’m told, they’re saying that it was offsides.”
“I think it was offside, but apparently the ref didn’t agree with me,” joked Schuller. According to Heath, the official told players that they “have the wrong angles for VAR.”
Shuttleworth had one of his easier matches, making just two saves. Much of that was thanks to the central defenders in front of him. “I thought both [Brent Kallman and Michael Boxall] were fantastic,” Shuttleworth praised. “I think the whole group, but them especially. They were really, really good — in the right spot whenever they needed to be.”
Heath shared a similar opinion. “I thought we were excellent first half. And as I say, I can’t remember an awful lot that Bobby had to do,” he said. “You know, he came up and made the saves he should have done. But no, we’ve looked a lot more solid the last few weeks.”
Forward Angelo Rodriguez appeared to be surprised by the accuracy of Miguel Ibarra’s cross on his first goal. “I didn’t think I was going to get there, but I did and I was able to score the first goal,” he said in Spanish through a translator.
“I think it was a play we’ve been looking for for a while, to have the understanding on the final ball. I think, obviously all goals are nice, but I liked the header more,” he said.
Ibarra finished with 100% passing accuracy on 20 attempts ... Attendance was 21,926, a sell-out ... Heath said that Gomez “put in a really good shift” ... Rodriguez (3) now has more goals with United than Christian Ramirez (2) has with LAFC ... The Loons are back in action next Saturday at the Philadelphia Union, who drew 0-0 with Columbus