Minnesota United attacker Abu Danladi stepped into the starting lineup for the Loons’ 0-0 draw with the LA Galaxy, playing as a right winger.
The third-year player, last season’s first overall selection in the SuperDraft, has struggled to find consistent playing time in his short career due to recurring hamstring problems. He had no issues on Wednesday, putting in a solid performance that impressed his manager.
Paired along the right side with powerful attacking fullback Romain Metanire, much of Danladi’s play came in the form of overlapping interplay. Despite a couple of sloppy touches, his speed and passing were welcome additions to the team. “I thought Abu was very, very good,” said manager Adrian Heath after the game. “He was dangerous all evening down the right side.”
Danladi says he “always” expects to start, but was excited to get plenty of action. “[Heath] told me just to be confident, to take my man on,” he said of his strategy.
He played 87 minutes before making way for Ethan Finlay, a heavy workload. “It was a lot of running and still getting used to the field,” Danladi admitted. “i mean, it was a little bit heavy but I’ve got to push through it.”
Who needs goals anyway?
After two games that featured a combined thirteen goals, a 0-0 draw was, in some ways, a welcome reprieve for the Loons. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone called the match “complete[ly] different” compared to their previous games. “I think it was the opposite,” he said. “This game we were in control of the game, we managed the game in the right moments in the right time against a good team.”
For Heath, the lack of scoring provided a much-needed change in narrative. “It might keep [the media] and everybody else quiet for a week that we’ve kept a clean sheet,” he said. “I’m fed up of hearing it. I’m sure you’re fed up of talking about it, because I know I am.”
Minnesota are a team often prone to nervy moments of devastating collapse, but those moments were blissfully absent. The Galaxy “got on the ball a little bit to start off the game,” explained fullback Eric Miller, who made his first start and appearance of the 2019 season. “I had some serious adrenaline going as well ... When I got my legs under me, I felt really good and I felt like after 20-30 minutes, our backline, everyone in our back six did a really good job limiting their chances and staying organized.”
The Galaxy left Minnesota in frustrated fashion, for multiple reasons. United’s defense managed to snap Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s five-game scoring streak, but that was far from impressive to the Swedish star. “I mean, I don’t think they did anything special,” he told media postgame. “I didn’t really have chances, so if you don’t have chances it’s easy for the defenders because they don’t have to react. I felt I didn’t get that clear chance to be able to do something, so I think it was easy work for them.”
The grass surface at Allianz Field was also in rough shape by the end of the match, not helped by a second-half rain shower. “The field was terrible,” Galaxy ‘keeper David Bingham told the Los Angeles Times. “It was one of the worst grass fields we’ve played on in a long time.”
The pitch also affected the home side. Attacker Darwin Quintero missed a golden opportunity at goal on a cutback in the second half, putting too much air under his curling shot. “The field gave me a bad bounce and I wasn’t able to hit it well. We need to get used to it.” he said in Spanish.
Midfielder Ozzie Alonso wore the captain’s armband due to Francisco Calvo’s suspension. “You don’t question Ozzie,” said defender Ike Opara. “I think that he’s a leader by example for the guys on our side. He knows the tricks of the trade and he was great in control tonight.”
Fashionable and Functional
Opara wore a protective headband for the game, a precaution after a rough collision in a game a week and a half prior. He took it off in apparent frustration at moments in the match, but it didn’t annoy him. “If it’s going to protect — first off — my health, I’ll do anything for my career and more so life,” Opara explained. “I’m very cautious about my health, so if I need to wear it, I’ll wear it. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
Announced attendance was 19,779, more than capacity, on a rainy Wednesday night ... Calvo and midfielder Jan Gregus, both suspended due to red cards, watched the match from a booth on the press level ... Minnesota’s next opponent, DC United, picked up a 1-0 win on the road against the Columbus ... DC visits Allianz Field at 12:30p on Sunday