It was no secret to anybody inside Allianz Field that Saturday night against San Jose was a massive match-up for the Loons. Not only did the boys in Black and Blue hope to hit the brakes on their three-game losing streak, but more importantly, getting the win at home would be crucial if the Loons wanted to regain some sort of momentum in the club’s push to make the playoffs. While the pressure to persevere wasn’t quite “do or die” yet, the heat was certainly on the home squad to show up and give a stellar performance that was more akin to the seven-game unbeaten streak that preceded their current losing streak.
Judging by the first half, it appeared the Loons may be in for a long night, as the MNUFC attack started off looking anything but sharp when they had the ball. Thankfully for the boys, San Jose wasn’t much better on the ball, though they had a few more opportunities on keeper Dayne St. Clair, but none would come to fruition. Both clubs would head to the locker room hoping to pick up their pace after a ho-hum first half.
The second half would prove a bit more fruitful for MNUFC, with the attacking third showing signs of life right from kickoff, and the boys' movement and spacing looking a bit more like it had in earlier points of the season. A sharper attack would lead to a much-needed score in the 56th minute of play, with Emanuel Reynoso making a quick pass to Wil Trapp at midfield. Trapp would take the pass and charge towards the San Jose box and connect with Bongokuhle Hlongwane, whose deflected dribble would find Teemu Pukki open to put the boys on the board first. 1-0, Loons.
Unfortunately for the Black and Blue, the advantage would not stand in the end. After the San Jose attack picked up its pace in the middle of the second half, the Loons would once again give up a game-tying goal late in the match. That would come in the 82nd minute, when the Quakes’ Christian Espinoza would find defender Paul Marie, who would hammer it home to bring the score even, 1-1.
The Loons looked primed to have a solid second half, but an always dangerous San Jose attack would bring MNUFC back down to earth and continue an untimely streak of results that keep them on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoff picture. The Loons will have little time to dwell on this draw, as they face LAFC on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where they will try to get three crucial points off the reigning MLS champs.
LAFC vs. MNUFC
10.04.2023 | MLS Matchday 36
BMO Stadium | Los Angeles, CA | Kickoff: 9:30 p.m.
Watch: AppleTV - MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN