One of Major League Soccer’s hottest offenses clashed with one of the league’s worst teams at Allianz Field on Saturday night, but Minnesota United’s expected trouncing of the Vancouver Whitecaps failed to materialize as the two clubs drew 0-0.
There were no real surprises to manager Adrian Heath’s starting lineup. Rookie Chase Gasper remained the starter at left back, while fellow first-year sensation Hassani Dotson was relegated to the bench because there are only eleven spots on the field.
Midfielder and captain Ozzie Alonso received an injection to manage his shoulder injury and was able to start. Because of Kevin Molino’s absence (hamstring), Miguel Ibarra manned the left wing.
Attacking toward the Wonderwall to begin the match, the Loons found a very early attacking opportunity. A deflected shot from Darwin Quintero bounced to Ethan Finlay on the right flank, who placed a shot/cross combo just wide of the far post. Angelo Rodriguez came inches from poking the ball into the back fo the net, but was just behind on the play.
Fouls from both teams and an early injury-induced substitution from the Whitecaps gave the game a jerky feel during early portions. Shortly before the 20th minute, a Vancouver free kick deflected off of Rodriguez’ leg and into the crossbar, but the danger was averted.
The scrappy side of the game continued to be on full display as 11 combined fouls were called by referee Armando Villarreal by the 30th minute. Ethan Finlay picked up the first caution of the game not long after.
United’s attack finally began to heat up just before the halftime whistle. Rodriguez had the ball at his feet in the box but didn’t have time for a shot and a Quintero effort was deflected. Rodriguez sent a shot from a tight angle careening off the near post, but the rebound couldn’t be tamed.
Vancouver were the better side for parts of the second half, forcing Vito Mannone into a few saves, though their attacks largely came against the run of play. To restore order and earn the full three points, Heath opted for attack-oriented substitutions, bringing on Mason Toye and Abu Danladi for Rodriguez and Finlay with a little bit less than 30 minutes to play.
Shortly after the substitution, Quintero earned a yellow card, meaning he will be suspended one game for accumulation.
In the 73rd minute, Ibarra headed the ball forward off a corner and the effort hit Toye in stride, but his shot went over the bar.
As the game sputtered into the final ten minutes, there was some excitement for a VAR check of a possible handball inside the Whitecaps’ penalty area, but no foul has been giving. When the ensuing throw-in was taken, another shot ricocheted off the post, but the game remained scoreless.
The Loons’ next league matchup comes against the Portland Timbers next Sunday in an afternoon home game.