Minnesota United dominated in their 5-2 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night. Here are some things we learned from the match:
Counter-attacking is working:
There was an incredible stat that stood out to me at halftime, Minnesota had a 35% possession rate, yet scored four goals. They ended the match with a 37.8% rate …. And had 5 goals in total.
The up-tempo counter-attacking is working through two matches. Being able to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes and getting scoring opportunities was something that was lacking all last season.
Jan Gregus’s goal showed the improved counter-attack offense perfectly. United jumped off a sloppy pass from the Quakes and turned up field with a series of passes that resulted in a goal:
The on-field awareness will continue to get better as the season progresses so there could be many more opportunities like this in the future. Seeing Luis Amarilla getting involved in the play early on, starting a pass, and continuing with the play, is something that world-class strikers do.
Defensive Lapses Will Hurt
As a result of the Loons not having possession a lot in the match, San Jose did, and that meant keeper Tyler Miller was busy, facing 28 total shots, with 20 of them on target. At times the defense in front of him looked out of sorts and that was evident on the second Quakes goal.
There were too many people in the box and when there are that many people, it is assumed someone will defend a player, and we all know what happens when you assume.
Head Coach Adrian Heath commented on that same situation in his post-game press conference, “the second goal, I wasn’t as pleased with that. Like you say, scrappy, we’ve got enough bodies there. You know, sometimes you have too many bodies and people think other people are going to do the job, instead of going and marking people and trying to confront it at source. So we’ll have a look at it and see where we are.”
In this shot, you will see what Heath was talking about. When the shot is taken the entire Minnesota team is in the box and there are only four Quakes players. The odds were definitely in favor of a Loons stoppage but that didn’t happen. The shot was taken from an unmarked player and with so many people in the box, it was deflected and Miller didn’t have a chance to save it.
Thankfully the match was out of hand at this point, but in close games against a tougher opponent, these lapses could be game enders for Minnesota.
Anyone Can Score:
If there is one thing this game proved, Minnesota does have the ability to score and score often, from many different players. If this trend continues, it could be very positive for the Loons offense.
Yes, strikers are supposed to score so you have to figure Luis Amarilla will get the opportunities but the dominance that Ike Opara showed on set pieces is something that will give teams fits. His first goal showed what happens when you get to the ball first, you will get an opportunity at the net.
Opara’s second goal again came off a corner, and he proved once again what happens when you are first to the ball and win the mid-air pass, a goal
Throw in a few goals (again) from midfielders and you have a very potent team that can get goals from midfielders, strikers, and defencemen off set pieces.
Let’s see if Minnesota can continue this offensive display on Sunday (March 15th), the home opener, against the New York Red Bulls.