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Recap: Loons secure away victory over Whitecaps in season opener

It was Minnesota’s first road win in 357 days.

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

It started... sketchily... but Minnesota United managed to squeak out its first away victory in 357 days with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Loons’ first match of the 2019 season.

Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 will return for a third season. New goalkeeper Vito Mannone started in goal, despite missing a chunk of time early in the week to sort out visa issues in England. Francisco Calvo kept the captain’s armband as he started on the left side of the defense. Michael Boxall and new-arrival Ike Opara anchored the back line, and newbie Romain Metanire held down the right flank. The all-new midfield of DP Ján Greguš and Ozzie Alonso sat behind an attacking three of Rasmus Schuller, Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra. Romario Ibarra capped off the formation as the striker.

The Loons’ first concession of the season came a little quicker — that is to say, a lot — than many would have liked. Poor marking on an early set-piece gave Vancouver a lead just after the five-minute mark.

Alonso picked up his first yellow card of the year in the 24th minute in a sample of his aggressive playing style.

It was, fittingly, Quintero who scored the Loons’ first goal of 2019, perfectly converting a penalty after Calvo was brought down in the box. The Loons entered the half back on level terms with the home side.

Shortly after the hour mark, United found a lead through a chip from Quintero and a diving header from Calvo.

And just minutes later, Romario Ibarra doubled the Loons’ lead with a bit of fancy footwork and a helpful deflection.

The set-piece defending didn’t improve as the game progressed. United gave one back to the ‘Caps with an interesting scheme that left a gaping whole in the middle of the penalty area...

The Loons managed to hold on in four minutes of stoppage time as rookie Hassani Dotson made his MLS debut.