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3 Things We learned – Minnesota United vs Portland

It was a tale of two halves on Sunday

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Portland Timbers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United were able to rebound from a sluggish first half to score three times to beat the Portland Timbers 3-1 on Sunday for their first win of the season. Here are some things we learned from the match:

Kevin Molino could play in the #10 role:

I will be the first to admit, I might have to eat crow. Last week I wrote an article on “Why MNUFC need Emanuel Reynoso”, granted it is the first game, but Molino in the #10 role was extremely impressive. His constant pressure in and around the penalty box awarded him with two very opportunistic goals in the second half, a trait often credited to Emanuel Reynoso

The other big claim to Reynoso is his passing abilities, now I’m not saying Molino was passing like Reynoso, but he did have several decent passes and never really had a miss pass. Looking at his stats on, Molino was the second-highest-rated passer in week one with 45 passes attempted and a 73.3 pass success percentage in 81 minutes played.

Ethan Finlay could start our scoring threat

Yes, it was the first match, I know, but Finlay’s two assists were beautiful and the pass he used to set up the first goal was just as nice.

The first pass in the 51st minute to Robin Lod that Molino eventually poked in was set up from a great interception from an attacking Portland side. The ability to capitalize on an opposition error is something that was lacking in the first half and a good part of last season.

Finlay’s first assist was every coach’s dream, a midfielder on the break, getting deep into the opposition side, then sending a beautiful cross into the box for an easy goal (Amarilla far post header). You couldn’t ask for a better situation for an offensive threat off a Portland turnover.

The second assist was another beautiful piece of passing skill and reading the defense. Amarilla took a clearing pass, sent it into Molino, to Finlay who proceeded to flick a setup pass over his head, back to Molino who found the net for his 2nd goal of the night.

Finlay’s passing presence and ability to capitalize off a break on Sunday was key to the Loon’s first win of the season.

Two shots in the first half isn’t good

I am going to write the fact that we only were able to manage two shots while giving up seven in the first half, off into the category of it being the first game.

Thankfully for United, the Timbers shots were on “target”, but nothing that keeper Tyler Miller couldn’t handle. The offense really struggled to complete a pass more than five yards and in turn, drew 11 fouls at the halfway mark.

Compare that to Portland’s first-half stats, 7 shots, 57% possession, and only 5 fouls just show how lucky we were not to be down in the first part of the game.

Michael Boxall was solid in the first half forcing Portland to attempt shots that weren’t the most accurate and he was forced to cover for Romain Métanire who just seemed off all match. Portland’s goal was a result of Métanire committing a foul in the box for a penalty kick.

Edit - Opara committed the foul, my apologies. VR

Thankfully the halftime adjustments really opened up the match for Minnesota and that results in goals. Against a better team, two shots in the first half won’t cut it.

The next match is March 7th against the San Jose Earthquakes who drew against Toronto over the weekend so let’s hope the second half United team comes out to play!