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Recap: Set-Piece Goal Earns Loons 1-1 Draw Against Sounders

Check out what happened in the first half, then get ready for the second act.

SEA
Minnesota United vs Seattle Sounders
Tim C McLaughlin

In an entertaining and competitive fixture, Minnesota United drew 1-1 with the visiting Seattle Sounders at Allianz Field.

Manager Adrian Heath opted for a 4-3-3 starting formation for the second game in a row, a slight variation from his normal 4-2-3-1. The defensive line, which entered the match on a two-game shutout streak, was unchanged. Eric Miller once again played at left back, a spot he’s likely to occupy for some time after Francisco Calvo’s departure.

Ozzie Alonso wore the captain’s armband again as he faced his longtime club. Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay started on the wings in the only changes to the starting XI, replacing Darwin Quintero and Abu Danladi. Quintero was on the bench for the game, still recuperating from an ankle injury.

Minnesota started the match well, keeping the Sounders’ talented attackers in check while creating chances on the opposite end. True to form, Romain Metanire found plenty of space on the right side, sending in plenty of crosses from his fullback position. Alonso and Jan Gregus’ midfield combination looked to be in good shape with an early opportunity.

The first moment of panic for United came shortly after the 20-minute mark. Seattle’s Jordan Morris played the ball out wide to Nicolas Lodeiro and was left unmarked for the returning cross, sending a shot just wide of the goal.

Moments later, the Loons found a bit of luck on the other end. Rasmus Schuller earned a free kick in front of the box, just to the right side of the penalty arc. Gregus’ service found the head — or protective headband, rather — of Ike Opara, who sent it into the opposite corner of the net. It was Minnesota’s first goal off a set piece in the 2019 season and Opara’s first for his new club.

Opara looked to be in some discomfort after his goal, with blood visible running from his nose. Replays appeared to show that he hit a Seattle defender’s head immediately after the ball.

To cap off an entertaining spell, United found another lucky break on defense. Morris found another gap in the back line and sent the ball into the back of the net, but the assistant referee raised his flag for offside, disallowing the score.

As the match approached halftime, the Sounders found a way back into the game. Minnesota managed to clear a cross, but the low clearance was slammed home by onrushing Cristian Roldan for a stunning equalizer.

Minnesota got off to a decent start in the second half, but, in the common fashion, failed to produce any real chances off a series of crosses. Near the 70th minute, Romario Ibarra came on for Finlay, sending Miguel Ibarra over to the right side. A little bit more than five minutes later, Darwin Quintero entered the game for Schuller, giving United both an additional attacking presence and a more familiar 4-2-3-1 shape.

Seattle hit the woodwork twice in quick succession at the 8-minute mark, a reminder to the Loons that the game could be lost just as easily as it could be won. As a sign of their ambitions, the Sounders brought striker Raul Ruidiaz into the game in the 85th minute to push for a winner.

Neither side was able to find the late winner they were looking for.