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Recap: Despite milestone goals, Loons fall for the first time at Allianz Field

The Phildelphia Union proved to be tough opposition on Pride Night, edging Minnesota out 3-2.

June 2, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone (1) celebrates a goal for the Loons during the Minnesota United vs Philadelphia Union match at Allianz Field. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
June 2, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone (1) celebrates a goal for the Loons during the Minnesota United vs Philadelphia Union match at Allianz Field. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Minnesota United received two big goals from Hassani Dotson and Kevin Molino, but they weren’t enough to top the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. Falling by a score of 3-2, the match was the Loons’ first defeat at Allianz Field.

Manager Adrian Heath lined up his Minnesota side as expected. After impressing in his handful of starts as a fullback, rookie Hassani Dotson started at left back. Ike Opara and Brent Kallman constituted the centerback duo while right back Romain Metanire returned from a yellow card accumulation-induced suspension. Heath opted for the typical Jan Gregus-Ozzie Alonso midfield pairing. In hopes of getting the attack going once again, United went with a front four of Miguel Ibarra, Darwin Quintero and Ethan Finlay positioned behind striker Angelo Rodriguez.

The Loons clearly looked to be the better side of the game’s early minutes. Successful interplay between Angelo Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay produced a couple of deflected shots, but the real chances came just before the fifteenth minute.

Rodriguez held the ball up in the box, battling for position long enough to get a clear shot off, which Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake managed to stop. The rebound fell to Darwin Quintero, who took a shot of his own — stopped as well — and Rodriguez got one final effort. Blake managed another point-blank save on the next possession as well.

Despite being solidly in the Loons favor, the game took a negative twist immediately after. The Union’s Sergio Santos, the biggest threat of the game’s beginning, charged past Brent Kallman into United’s box. Kallman lunged out for the ball but was late to it, instead catching the foot of Santos, who went down. Referee Allen Chapman (correctly) awarded Philadelphia a penalty — converted by Jamiro Monteiro — and Kallman a yellow card, though the fairness of the decision was lost on the Allianz Field crowd.

Dotson, who has already impressed with his versatility and ability to seamless slot in at fullback, showed off a little more right before the half-hour mark. Faced with an oncoming low bouncing ball, Dotson sent it — with the top of his foot — right toward the near post. With his first shot in Major League Soccer, Dotson beat one of the division’s best keepers to level the score for the Loons.

Santos was no less dangerous at the end of the first half than at the beginning. He earned Philadelphia a free kick just outside of the box right before halftime, sending more boos down from the stands. Haris Medunjanin stepped up to take the free kick and tucked it inside the left post, just past Vito Mannone’s fingertips to give the Union another lead.

The game came right out of the second half gate just as open as when the first 45 ended. Faced with a crowded box in front of him, Mannone made a big diving save to keep his side within a goal.

Quintero had a golden opportunity to break his slump when the ball fell to him just after the hour mark. But with an open shot, the Colombian playmaker’s shot instead went square into Union defender Kai Wagner.

The Loons’ attack underwent a change after a double substitution in the 70th minute. Kevin Molino and Abu Danladi replaced Quintero and Finlay. Danladi’s ability to play as both a right winger and a striker gave the new formation some flexibility.

Those additions joined forces to strengthen United’s attack. Danladi crossed the ball from the right side of the end line to Molino, who took one touch to gently flick the ball up to himself, then hammered a low shot home for the Loons’ second equalizer of the day. It was Molino’s first goal since opening weekend (March 3rd) of the 2018 season, the game before he tore his ACL, causing him to miss the rest of the year.

The brief spell of confidence was not to last for Minnesota. After failing to adequately clear a corner, a far-post cross proved to be disaster for the Loons. Kallman stumbled and lost his mark, allowing the ball to dropp for Philadelphia’s Auston Trusty, who poked it into the net, restoring the visitors’ lead.