Yesterday Eli Hoff kicked off our first edition of Daily Power Rankings (which you can read here) with the 5 most important stats so far this year for the Loons. Today Ashle Norling brings you a different perspective.
The 5 Most Important Matches in MNUFC history, since joining MLS
Now three years and two games really isn’t a lot to go on, but in that time period the Loons really have had more than a few important matches in that time span. None quite as important as some in the NASL era, but we’ll come to that on a later day.
Now as a heads up this is going to be very heavily loaded with matches from 2019 due to the clubs perfomance during the season compared to 2017 and 2018. An honorable mention goes to the 2019 match on September 1st against LAFC where the Loons would be the only team to defeat LAFC on their home pitch during the entire regular season.
No. 5: 2017 “Snowpener”, Home vs Atlanta United
As much as I want too and try to block this match from memory, it is without a doubt one of the most important matches in club history.
On a Sunday evening in early March, a crowd of 35,043 fans braved a blizzard to witness the first top division league match in Minnesota since 1984. TCF Bank Stadium was so packed they would open the upper deck, a feat that only would happen a few times during the Loons two year stint at the stadium.
Most people remember the blizzard and I would hope not much else as the Loons faced off against expansion rival Atlanta United FC. The team that nearly stole MNUFC’s name (yes I am still bitter) would absolutely destroy the home side 6-1 in what remains still as the worst loss in franchise history.
No. 4: 2019 MLS Regular Season Match 6, Home vs New York City FC
Another momentous occasion involving a stadium opening and cold weather enters this list.
The Number 4 most important match is the 2019 home opener against New York City FC. After two years of waiting since joining MLS and nearly four years since the expansion announcement the Loons opened a home of their own. The brand new beautiful Allianz Field debuted for the first time with a sold out crowd of 19,796 fans coming out to see the team.
Unfortunately for Minnesota they were unable to open the stadium with a bang. After trading goals with NYCFC and taking a 3-2 lead into half time, MNUFC would allow a 64th minute goal by the visitors and have to settle for a single point and a 3-3 draw.
No. 3: 2019 MLS Regular Season Match 34, Away @ Seattle Sounders
This match would set the stage for our number two ranked match and because of that was just slightly less important.
Heading into Decision Day the Western Conference Playoffs were very close to set. But Seattle and MNUFC entered the weekend tied at 53 points each with a CONCACAF Champions League spot and guaranteed first round home match as the #2 seed on the line.
In the end it was only the Sounders who could score and they would go on to gain the #2 seed in the Western Conference before going all the way to win the MLS Cup.
No. 2: 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, Home vs LA Galaxy
The number two ranked match on this list is the immediate follow up to our number three ranked match. Following being defeated by Seattle in the final week of the regular season the Loons would be matched up with the Galaxy in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The first ever MLS Cup Playoff match in Minnesota saw yet another sellout when 19,939 fans packed Allianz Field for a huge game in MN soccer history. No scoring happened in the first half but LA would score twice unanswered in the second half to open a 2-0 lead. Greguš would score for MNUFC in the 87th minute and it looked as if the Loons would be able to send the match to extra time. Alas that was not to be and the day ended with Minnesota being eliminated in the first round.
How very Minnesota sports like of us, but hey Zlatan didn’t score so that’s a moral victory right?
No. 1: 2019 US Open Cup Final, Away @ Atlanta United
And finally the most important game in Minnesota United history is . . .
The 2019 US Open Cup Final in Atlanta, GA!
For the second time on this list the other United makes an appearance, this one wasn’t so one sided though. On the way to the final MNUFC would run through opponents that saw the Loons give up more than one goal only once in four games. Offensively the team was astounding as well scoring 15 goals in four games, and never scoring less than 2.
With a place in the CONCACAF Champions League and $500,000 on the line this was the biggest moment in club history.
Chase Gasper would give up and own goal just minutes in and just minutes later Pity Martínez would bring ATL up 2-0 at home in the Peach State. Robin Lod would score in the 47th minute to bring MNUFC within one. Atlanta’s Leandro González Pírez would earn a yellow in the 71’ before getting a second yellow, resulting in a red card just three minutes later. 16+ minutes with a man advantage wouldn’t help the Loons score and Atlanta took the USOC final 2-1 on their home turf.
Have thoughts on today’s rankings? Let us know in the comments section below!