The Loons knew going into this evening’s matchup with San Jose that if they were planning to leave PayPal Park with points in the standings, they would have to stand pat on defense to keep Cristian Espinoza and a dangerous San Jose attacking third in check. As for the Loons attack, they made it clear from the kickoff that they wanted to get the jump on San Jose’s defenders. And, it didn’t take very long for that approach to prove fruitful when a fast-breaking Emanuel Reynoso would place a through ball right on the money to Teemu Pukki for the goal in the 4th minute. 1-0, Waterfowl.
The Loons attack would be fluid throughout the first 15 minutes of the game, but San Jose would send a shock to MNUFC’s system in the 16th in the form of midfielder Cade Cowell’s right footed shot from just outside the box and into the net. 1-1, even. For the remainder of the first half, it would be a back-and-forth with both squads creating opportunities on the attack that looked as if they might find the net, but none would cross the threshold before the half.
When the squads returned to the pitch for the second half, it would be San Jose’s Espinoza that came out of the locker room firing. Within the first ten minutes of the second half the attacker would see a number of quality opportunities to seize the lead, only to see each attempt fly just wide of the post. Then, in the 60th minute, the Loons thought they had their tie-breaking score in hand when Reynoso once again found Pukki, this time in close proximity to the goal. He launched a beauty of a top-shelf past San Jose keeper Daniel. The goal, however, was not to be, as a review courtesy of VAR would determine that Reynoso had what looked like a hand ball prior to passing to Pukki. The goal would be waved off, and the Loons would remain deadlocked.
San Jose’s attack continued to threaten the Loons penalty box, but were unable to put one past goalkeeper and potential superhero Dayne St Clair. Despite giving up the goal to Cowell in the first half, St Clair played masterfully throughout the second, showcasing his athleticism time and time again. One of his most clutch moments of the evening would come in the 66th minute, when his one-handed, diving save would be just enough to keep it over the line and out of harm’s way. He would follow that up in the 82nd minute, when Canada’s finest export would once again show off his quick reflexes to make a diving save and keep the Quakes out of the net.
Though each side would see chances to break the stalemate in the last ten minutes of play and stoppage time, both defenses would hang tough just long enough to see this one end with a 1-1 draw. Now, the Loons will look ahead to September 9th, when the New England Revolution makes a visit to the Midway.
MNUFC vs. New England
09.09.2023 | MLS Matchday 31
Allianz Field | St. Paul, MN | Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Watch: AppleTV - MLS Season Pass