It was a game that really should have felt like something special for Minnesota United. In the end, however, it felt like something was stolen from them.
The club hosted their annual Pride Night at Allianz Field, with the home side wearing rainbow-patterned numbers and special recognitions of fans and community members before and during the match taking place. Even this celebration had something taken away: the supporters groups’ tifo, a large banner representing a multitude of hours of hard work, couldn’t be displayed because of structural problems due to an unfortunately angled wind.
On the field, the Loons enjoyed two momentous goals. Rookie Hassani Dotson, who has been starting as a fullback of late, scored a tremendous half-volley for his first career MLS goal — on his first ever shot to boot.
Later in the second half, attacking midfielder Kevin Molino scored his first goal in 456 days, solidifying his return from the ACL injury which took away nearly all of his 2018 season.
Despite all of this, the Loons fell 3-2 to the visiting Philadelphia Union, their first loss at Allianz Field.
“Guys put in so much work to get back into the game, we really felt like, when we got that equalizer, that we were going to find that goal and take three points,” said defender Brent Kallman. “We ended up getting nothing out of it.”
United did indeed put a lot of work into the match. The only problem was that the Union were constantly in the way.
Minnesota players shot the ball 29 times, but just 6 of those efforts ended up on target. Part of that, no doubt, was due to the cluster of Philadelphia defenders positioned between the ball and the goal. The visiting team blocked 15 shots over the course of the game, including 9 in the first half alone.
“That’s great defending,” said Minnesota manager Adrian Heath. “I thought some of their last-ditch defending was of the highest order — throwing their bodies on the line to stop goal-bound shots.”
Robbed of their ability to finish, the Loons attack suffered another unfortunate result. Darwin Quintero, subbed out in the 69th minute on Sunday, has now gone more than 500 minutes without scoring a goal, and hasn’t played a full match since April 24th.
“We’ve got to better in front of goal,” stated Kallman.
Heath saw some improvement in the attack, and also recognizes that his team won’t have 15 shots blocked very often. “If we play like that, we will win a lot more than we’ll lose,” he said.
Throughout the game, fans were often sending boos raining down on the Allen Chapman, the game’s referee. Chapman gave the Union an early penalty in the 17th minute, calling Brent Kallman for stepping on Sergio Santos inside the box.
Kallman admitted that the call was justified. “I was so confident that I was going to clear [the ball] that I actually took a peek to see who I was going to clear it to and in that half-second I slowed down,” he explained. “I did make contact.”
The accuracy of that call did nothing to placate the fans, however. “I thought they were very, very good at, shall we say, being professional: knowing when to stay down,” commented Heath. “I thought it broke the flow of the game, when we had the energy fo the crowd going.”
Philadelphia players’ tendencies to hit the deck at the slightest contact wore on Minnesota’s players, as did some of Chapman’s game management. “I told him hey, my jersey [is ripped], he’s grabbing me. And he tells me I can’t talk to him … with ‘that attitude,’” said Kallman. “Are you kidding me? I can’t have a discussion with you because I’m on a yellow card? That’s ridiculous. So I didn’t really like his demeanor towards me at all.”
Chapman was a soccer player himself, years ago. Still, Kallman wouldn’t go so far as to say the game was called poorly. “It didn’t feel like [it was fair] in the moment. That’s going to happen. They have a tough job,” he said.
Minnesota are away to the Colorado Rapids next Saturday.