A few matches shy of the season’s halfway mark, Minnesota United FC’s attack has come to a sputtering stop. A 2-1 loss on the road to New England Revolution on Sunday was the latest example of the Loons’ ability to blow a lead and become an easily solved puzzle for their opponent.
The Latest Loss
Despite outshooting the Revolution 13 to 11 and 6 to 2 on goal, Minnesota put only one away. Emanuel Reynoso notched a now-rare goal by converting a penalty kick in the 37’. Luis Amarilla put two of his three shots on target, but they were too easily collected by Dorde Petrovic. Franco Fragapane and Robin Lod - fresh from Finland duty - rounded out the attacking four. Lod, on the right wing, added two shots, one of which should have found the net.
When he was replaced in the 70’ by Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Lod fumed on his way to the bench. The winger-turned-striker’s determination to make goals and to do better, despite his club-leading six goals on the season, is the energy the rest of the squad needs to find moving forward. It would serve them far better than the frustration displayed after New England equalized.
Dylan Borrero’s goal in the 53’ may have been an error on Dayne St Clair’s part (he bobbled on his dive and the slow, skipping ball trickled under his hip for the score) but the lead-up, especially the service from Carles Gil, was the kind of play Minnesota seems allergic to. The yellow cards that followed are a common symptom (Wil Trapp 58’, Lod 68’).
Perhaps Gustavo Bou’s top bins freekick goal in the 69’ would not have been the winner if not for such a reaction. But it was the winner. And the Loons could do nothing but score four more yellow cards (Amarilla and Bakaye Dibassy in the 80’, Kemar Lawrence 83’, and Adrien Hunou 86’).
Maybe DSC should have saved both shots. Maybe one flubbed save and a great freekick didn’t have to happen in the first place. As DJ Taylor, who slotted in at rightback in place of injured Romain Metanire, said:
As for the team, Adrian Heath stressed New England’s ability to peak in the second half. He said that despite preparing for that, “I just don’t think that we, we probably didn’t play at the heights as we did in the first and I don’t think that our counterattacking play and our approach play was probably as neat and tidy and as precise as it was in the first.”
Speaking of Heath...
Two More Years of Adrian
MNUFC announced on Thursday that the club had reached an agreement with head coach Adrian Heath that will see him in charge through 2024. The deal was actually done in preseason, but Heath and the club mutually agreed to withhold an announcement until Heath’s assistants, Ian Fuller and Sean McAuley, and goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr, finalized their own contracts.
The timing of the news, amidst a losing streak and season ticket renewals, was another blow to a rocky club-supporter relationship that has seen better days. While the club’s results have improved incrementally through Heath’s tenure (three consecutive playoff appearances, a much-improved goal differential and an improved squad overall), there are doubts as to whether another two years of the Heath system will balance positively. Would it be any better with new management? Could Lod have scored if Heath didn’t pull him on Sunday? These are questions without answers.
No More Adrien?
Designated Player Adrien Hunou has drawn interest from France’s Ligue 1 and reports from St Paul’s Pioneer Press and Hunou’s own Instagram feed make it sound as if the move is imminent. The attacker dropped to fourth in the depth chart behind Amarilla, Abu Danladi and Bongi Hlongwane, and has seen little playing time in 2022. Removing him from the roster will free up a DP slot and enough cash to get a player who might better fit Heath’s formation. Minnesota is expected to make a move or two in the summer transfer window.
United’s road trip continues on Saturday with a stop at Inter Miami FC. Both teams have 18 points from 15 matches with Miami sitting at 10th in the East and Minnesota 11th in the West. A win in Miami would go a long way toward buoying Minnesota’s hopes to finish above mid-table.