Minnesota United FC closed out the 2022 regular season at home on Sunday, October 9, with a massive 2-0 win again Vancouver Whitecaps. It was a “Winner takes all” matchup and the Loons returned to form, with goals from Franco Fragapane and Jonathan González, being more than enough to secure sixth place in a tight race for seeding in the West Conference.
MNUFC: Dayne St. Clair; Kemar Lawrence, Brent Kallman, Michael Boxall, DJ Taylor; Wil Trapp, Robin Lod (Joseph Rosales 74'); Franco Fragapane (Alan Benítez 77'), Emanuel Reynoso, Mender García (Jonathan González 58’); Luis Amarilla
VWFC: Thomas Hasal; Ranko Veselinovic, Tristan Blackmon, Jake Nerwinski (Leonard Owusu 62'); Luis Martins (Cristian Dájome 73'), Julian Gressel, Andres Cubas, Ryan Gauld, Russell Teibert (Lucas Cavallini 62'), Petro Vite (Tosaint Ricketts 81'); Brian White
highlights, low lights, all of the lights pic.twitter.com/mrpKvfFnEM— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) October 10, 2022
In front of a standing-room only crowd of 19,941 fans, the Loons came out with a high press and a midseason midfield. With Robin Lod back in play, the attacking four were free to frustrate the Whitecaps defense. Three missed shots in the opening eleven minutes were poorly struck, but they were shots — A feature sorely lacking from the Loons’ playbook in the last month. Dayne St. Clair was forced to make three saves in the same eleven minutes — A feature not at all lacking recently.
Minnesota found the breakthrough in the 17th minute after Emanuel Reynoso picked off a Vancouver turnover in the Loons’ half and sent Franco Fragapane on a long run. Fragapane dribbled alone but found a clear shot from the top of the 18 and struck. The goal snapped a five-match drought for Fragapane and gave the Loons a much needed lift.
As Lizzo put it, it’s About Damn Time.— Dave Draeger (@djdraeger) October 9, 2022
Despite outshooting Vancouver 9 to 6 in the first half, Minnesota showed plenty of the issues that have nagged recently (the casual "pass and pray” moves, extra touches, lack of interest in stepping to the ball, etc.) and Wil Trapp added another yellow card to his regular season collection in the 33rd minute. Nonetheless, MNUFC took a 1-0 lead into the half.
The second half continued much the same way. Vanni Sartini made a handful of subs looking for an edge, most notably sending in Lucas Cavallini in for Russell Teibert in the 62nd minute. His give-and-go plays with Ryan Gauld gave the Whitecaps some of their best opportunities of the night. Before they could find anything, a Minnesota sub doubled the score.
Played with the effort the occasion called for— Tim “Go Birds” Nichols (@timcities555) October 9, 2022
Jonathan González, who replaced García in the 58th minute, found himself on the end of a bouncing cross from Joseph Rosales in the 77th minute. "Jo-Go” one-timed the ball with the inside of his left foot and sent it cleanly past Thomas Hasal. It was the midfielder's first goal in eight appearances on loan with MNUFC.
More heroics from St. Clair and some standout individual performances helped the Loons see out the final minutes and win, 2-0. For the first time since August 27, Allianz Field played "Wonderwall".
Their most complete game, when they needed it.— Erik Vorhes (@erikvorhes) October 9, 2022
With the sixth seed, Minnesota secured a first-round away match, right back where the late skid began. Minnesota last played FC Dallas on September 3 at Allianz Field, a 3-0 loss in which Boxall knocked in an uncharacteristic own goal and Fragapane drew a red card.
Third place Dallas capped off their season with a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola were the goal scorers in that match, but Nico Estévez has plenty of players at his disposal and knows how to frustrate Adrian Heath's side.
The match is scheduled for Monday, October 17, at 8:30 PM CST. It will be broadcast nationally on FS1. It will also be available on SKOR North, where listeners will be treated to the commentary of Callum Williams and Kyndra de St Aubin for (at least) one more match.
The end of an era
With the Apple TV broadcast deal sealed for 2023 and beyond, local broadcasts of MLS matches came to an end on Sunday. Minnesota's duo of Callum Williams and Kyndra de St. Aubin, with the club since the 2017 expansion to MLS, were honored by the Supporters Groups and Wonderwall with a special pregame tifo.
I just don’t have the words right now. Thank you all so much @MNWonderwall #MNUFC pic.twitter.com/epa8u5ZVrj— Callum Williams (@CalWilliamsComm) October 10, 2022
A couple more pics from last night … this is a snapshot into our 6 years … laughter fun teamwork thank you @CalWilliamsComm & thank you to Matt & Nathan “The Loony Bin” for making these amazing hats for me to surprise Cal … and on incredibly short notice pic.twitter.com/YlJAP390Jm— Kyndra de St. Aubin (@Kyndrasports) October 10, 2022
Widely lauded as one of the best commentary teams in the league, Williams and de St. Aubin will be missed as MLS makes this step toward standardized/centralized coverage. All of us here at E Pluribus Loonum wish them nothing but the best in their next steps and would like to thank them for their contribution to MNUFC and Minnesota soccer as a whole.