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Notebook: Loons’ defense holds steady against DC United

Hear from Adrian Heath, Angelo Rodriguez and Vito Mannone on the match

April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United celebrate a 1-0 victory over DC United  at Allianz Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United celebrate a 1-0 victory over DC United at Allianz Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

After 270 minutes of soccer at Allianz Field, Minnesota United fans finally got what they were after all along: a chance to sing Wonderwall.

The song came on the back of the Loons’ second consecutive clean sheet, the first time they’ve held opponents scoreless in back to back games. “Obviously, [it’s] another clean sheet, which will please all of you [the media] no doubt,” said manager Adrian Heath after the game. “That will stop you writing about it again this week, so that’s good. I don’t have to listen to it all week, so that’s good.”

“With the quick turnaround, and the guys really were concentrated through that 90 minutes to really not concede anything, and give them any really good opportunities,” said defender Ike Opara. “And that starts with everyone on the field. The dedication to that side of the ball has been great for us the last two games.”

A game of two halves

DC were the dominant team of the first half, but the Loons were able to turn things around at halftime. Part of that came from a 51st-minute substitution, bringing energetic Miguel Ibarra onto the field.

“I thought Miggy was great when he came on,” said Heath. “I thought he gave us energy and he gave us some enthusiasm. Obviously, you know, it’s never easy leaving somebody like him out. But, he’s certainly, he actually gave us something different than we had on the field beforehand.”

April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - DC United midfielder Ulises Segura (8) attempts to steal the ball from Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra (10) during the Minnesota United vs DC United match at Allianz Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - DC United midfielder Ulises Segura (8) attempts to steal the ball from Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra (10) during the Minnesota United vs DC United match at Allianz Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

“[Heath] just told me make sure I go out there, he has all the confidence in me, so make sure I go out there in confidence and go out there with energy, because that’s what the team needed,” said Ibarra.

A VARce?

The hand of the Video Assistant Referee came down in the first half, calling back a DC United goal for a foul. According to the decision, DC’s Frederic Brillant pulled down on Vito Mannone, hampering his ability to jump and claim the ball.

“I couldn’t jump,” explained Mannone after the game. “Basically, I jumped and the one guy completely focused on me. And the other one was free to make the header.”

“I said to the ref, go and check it,” Mannone continued. “Because I’m being fouled and I couldn’t jump off, that is not a 50/50 where you go up for the header and you lose the challenge. Somebody in the box did that, so obviously I thought it was a foul.”

“I was pretty ecstatic and really happy that I scored,” said DC’s Donovan Pines, who had scored the goal. “I don’t know how they called it back, I didn’t look at the replay in time. It was kind of unfortunate, but that’s the game, so we just kept playing.”

Who scored?

Angelo Rodriguez received credit for the game’s lone goal, but his touch was a slight one, leading some to suggest that Romain Metanire actually had the goal.

“As a forward I’m always going to say yes,” joked Rodriguez in Spanish through a translator. “But I kind of touched it. It doesn’t matter if it was Romain’s or my goal, what matters is the win and the three points.”

April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United forward Angelo Rodriguez (9) slots the ball passed DC United defender Donovan Pines (23) for the lone goal during the Minnesota United vs DC United match at Allianz Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
April 28, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United forward Angelo Rodriguez (9) slots the ball passed DC United defender Donovan Pines (23) for the lone goal during the Minnesota United vs DC United match at Allianz Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Mo’ matches, mo problems

The pitch at Allianz Field was looking a little worse for the wear, even before the game started.

“Well, it’s a little bit of a concern at the moment,” admitted Heath. “I feel for the groundsman, because he had three feet of snow on it for like, three months. So, it hasn’t been easy for him.”

The DC United Twitter account poked fun at the pitch after the game, but deleted the tweet, perhaps after recalling that chunks of their stadium’s railing were falling on top of employees when it opened last fall.

Gotta drink what you’ve gotta drink

Mannone and Rodriguez both had empty cans of Red Bull energy drink in their lockers after the game.

“It's the secret of a few of the boys,” laughed Mannone. “Especially today, when it’s 12:30 [kickoff] you need one of them, because you need to get going. It’s not like a 3:00 or 7:00.

MNUFC DCU
Minnesota United vs DC United

Half-Volleys

Rodriguez was named the team’s Man of the Match ... Defender and captain Francisco Calvo was left out of the matchday squad as Heath “didn’t want any negativity about the group” ... Announced attendance was 19,620 ... Minnesota’s next opponent, the Seattle Sounders, drew 1-1 with top-of-the-table LAFC in an intense match