Five hundred and eighty minutes is a long time, especially in a sport where games occupy just ninety.
That’s how long Minnesota United’s attack went without scoring before the Loons’ 4-1 US Open Cup win over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. Luckily, any sort of slump the team was experiencing is now broken.
Darwin Quintero, the playmaker who was hit hardest by a dry spell, notched a brace, including a delightfully typical finish that sent two SKC defenders to the ground. Angelo Rodriguez, the striker who has yet to receive a warm reception from the fanbase, netted in the second minute and again in the second half, though the latter finish was called back for offside. And Ethan Finlay, whose pace and energy led to so many almost-chances, executed with a goal seconds into the second half.
All in all, it was a pretty good day for United.
“It was a really good evening for us because the goalscorers couldn’t have been three better players who needed a goal for their confidence. They’ll be better for that,” said manager Adrian Heath.
Though those players would deflect questions about any sense of relief after the game, it was plain to see that the goals were important. There were smiles abound, and Quintero appeared to drop a subtle dab after his second.
“I’m still trying to be patient with myself, sometimes it takes a little bit of self-talk,” said Finlay. “It hasn’t been because I haven’t been in the right spots and trying, I think it’s a little bit of the composure. I think we saw that tonight. I think the goal that I had, in the end I was just much calmer on it than I was my first opportunity.”
Some of Minnesota’s success came from an occasional high press from the front three. Though no goals came directly from the effort, there were certainly chances.
“Well we knew they were going to play out of the back and we felt like there was an opportunity,” explained Finlay. “We positioned ourselves well on certain set plays where, you know, goes out for a goal kick, we can get set and let them play out and then from there try to win it. We’ll be able to create chances higher up the field ... it was a positive look for us.”
“You have to pick your moments, but once it went to centerbacks, we’d cut the three midfield players off,” said Heath. “It was a case of everybody pressing and I thought it worked really well in the first half.”
The Loons will find out their opponent in the next round of Open Cup play on June 13th. The fifth round, with the final sixteen teams, will be played between June 18th and 22nd.
With the first round of Group D play in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup set to kick off at Allianz Field on Tuesday, members of the Trinidad and Tobago National Team — including Minnesota attacking midfielder Kevin Molino — were spotted at the match, as were United States head coach Gregg Berhalter and members of his technical staff.
Announced attendance was 7,211. The upper stand on the stadium’s east side was closed for the match.