Minnesota United managed to squeak out a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on the road in New Jersey.
Injuries to Miguel Ibarra and Darwin Quintero forced manager Adrian Heath into a lineup change for the match. Instead of his usual 4-2-3-1, Heath opted for a 3-4-3. Brent Kallman joined Michael Boxall and Ike Opara at centerback, and Francisco Calvo and Romain Métanire played outside at wingback. The normal duo of Ján Greguš and Ozzie Alonso occupied the midfield. The biggest changes came to United’s attack, as Abu Danladi and Ethan Finlay flanked Angelo Rodriguez.
Much of the first half went without great opportunity for either team, a positive start for the Loons. That positivity still had room to improve however, as a solid team goal ended with Danladi putting the ball in the back of the net.
La Di Danladi...— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) April 6, 2019
...we likes to party pic.twitter.com/eHFVh2jQSO
A long ball from Métanire found Rodriguez at the top of the box, and the strong forward was able to hold the ball up before placing a simple pass to Danladi.
Mannone ended the half with a nice save on Bradley Wright-Phillips to protect the near post.
Mr. Steal Your Goal #RBNYvMIN | 0-1 | @VitoMannone88 pic.twitter.com/yjJw3LAyhQ— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) April 6, 2019
Danladi left the game at halftime, replaced by Romario Ibarra. It appeared the young striker, who has already dealt with extensive injury issues in his short career so far, was in some discomfort.
Romario made his presence known immediately in the second half. A deflected shot from Rodriguez found its way to the wide-open Ecuadorian winger, who hit a perfect half volley on his first touch.
Like a good neighbor...— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) April 7, 2019
...Romario is there pic.twitter.com/ULT5NaCv5f
Mannone followed-up on the goal with another strong save, this time on a direct free kick attempt. His assertiveness and ability to secure loose balls helped to maintain a successful defensive performance for United.
Despite Mannone’s best efforts, Cristian Casseres Jr. scored his first MLS goal, slamming home a rebound in an attempt to bring the Red Bull's back into the game.
Shortly after, Rasmus Schuller replaced Rodriguez in the hopes of locking down the game, which had swiftly given momentum to the hosts.
There was a brief panic for the Loons as the referee went to VAR to check for a penalty against Minnesota, but the foul was not given.
After the 80th minute, Finlay made way for rookie Hassani Dotson.
Jan Gregus sent a threatening effort from distance on target, but Luí Robles managed to parry the shot.
Despite New York’s best efforts, the Loons were able to hold on to their narrow lead for five minutes of stoppage time.
Minnesota are back in action next weekend as they open Allianz Field against New York City FC.