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Recap: MNUFC Bounce Back In Comeback 3-1 Win Over Real Salt Lake

Darwin Quintero’s two goals seal the deal for the Loons as they take the third spot in the playoff table

September 15, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Vito Mannone makes a save during an MLS match between Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake at Allianz Field
Vito Mannone makes a leaping save early in Minnesota United’s win vs Real Salt Lake.
Tim C McLaughlin

After an abysmal performance midweek, Minnesota United responded in a big way against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, taking down a rival in the Western Conference playoff race in the process.

The Loons made waves before warmups started, leaving both Thomas Chacon and Angelo Rodriguez out of the matchday 18 after appearing on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo. The omission of Chacon gave the left wing start to Robin Lod, while Kevin Molino and Darwin Quintero filled out the attacking midfield as Adrian Heath returned to the 4-2-3-1. Real Salt Lake countered with as much of a first team roster they could muster, notably bringing in Sam Johnson as an out and out striker in front of an attacking midfield line with Damir Kreilach, Albert Rusnak, and Jefferson Savarino.

Minnesota United had the better of the early pressure, getting multiple incisive passes from Darwin Quintero through to Robin Lod and Mason Toye. Yet it was Real Salt Lake that got the initial breakthrough. Jefferson Savarino’s initial shot was saved well by Vito Mannone, but his palmed parry went to Albert Rusnak. After hanging in front of the 18 yard box for some time, the Slovakian DP Rusnak sent a weak shot through that passed by a slipping Mannone.

The goal was certainly against the run of play, which Darwin Quintero rectified three minutes later. Sprung free in midfield from a Kevin Molino pass, El Cientifico snuck his way through the Real Salt Lake back line before taking on Nick Rimando one on one in the box. A few clever jukes later, Rimando was left on the ground, with Quintero getting a free shot on goal that he fired off the inside of the near post for the equalizer.

A fairly back and forth half eventually settled into late pressure for Real Salt Lake. The real drama of the close of the half, though came in the stands over the closing 15 minutes of the half. Following the team’s week of ill relations with its supporters groups over the use of the Iron Front symbol, a large number of fans began flying home-painted fabric squares during the Wonderwall’s rework of the Italian folk tune “Bella Ciao,” an anthem of the country’s fight against fascism in the 1930s. Numerous banners were seen confiscated from the section between the 33rd minute and halftime and at least three people were spotted being removed for discussions with security guards, with a visibly increased security presence to follow into the second half.

September 15, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Iron Front and Antifa banners are on display in the Wonderwall during the Minnesota United vs Real Salt Lake match at Allianz Field.
Iron Front and Anti-Fascist Action banners are on display in the Wonderwall during the Minnesota United vs Real Salt Lake match at Allianz Field.
Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography

The second half saw the Loons take on the bulk of the excitement, with Darwin Quintero yet again providing the magic in the 51st minute. As the team recovered a ball from the sideline, Quintero’s assured dribble first juked the left side of Salt Lake’s defense, before also beating his own teammate Mason Toye on a supporting run. Instead, Quintero cut back inside to shoot a low ball through to Rimando’s left for what ultimately became the game winner.

The fun didn’t stop there. Minnesota kept the pressure going throughout the final 40 minutes, peppering the Salt Lake box with chances. A spirited run from Hassani Dotson led to a brilliant cross to Robin Lod that forced Rimando into an acrobatic point-blank save. Second half substitute Ethan Finlay found acres of space behind the RSL defense on a low cross from Romain Metanire soon after, shooting through for the insurance goal in the 83rd minute. The goal saw Metanire’s first assist in over three months.

The win put the squad in third place in the Western Conference, leapfrogging their opponents in the process.