Latest News

Loons Find Their Form in Charlotte


What a lovely day in Charlotte. Minnesota United took down the Crown 3-0 on Sunday in a real bounceback performance. The win wasn’t always a certainty, but as the Loons grew into the match, it became clear they didn’t plan on leaving without three points.

A slow start saw the Loons come into the game toothless and shaky, seemingly unable to hold meaningful possession and appearing vulnerable to Charlotte’s attacking corps. However, with several changes to the starting lineup, it was always going to take a bit of time to get things clicking, and once the dust settled, the Black and Blue really found their stride.

The midfield three of Hassani Dotson, Wil Trapp, and Kervin Arriaga gave the visiting team plenty of workrate in the middle of the pitch, but questions remained as to where the attacking thrust would come from. About 25 minutes in, it became abundantly clear that the quality of Robin Lod and Franco Fragapane would be the key to unlocking Charlotte’s backline, as the conservative play of Arriaga gave Rosales and Taylor the freedom to play as wingbacks on either side. This in turn gave the wingers space to operate as attacking mids, leaving the wide areas for their defensive counterparts and generally wreaking havoc.

In the 31st minute, the tactical battle finally broke as Lod’s De Bruyne-esque cross from deep on the left side of the field found the enterprising run of Tani Oluwaseyi. Though he didn’t have much of a window, the quality of the ball and the striker’s decisiveness left enough room for a beautiful half-volley strike from the top of the box, bouncing off the post and into the net in the sweetest of fashions. Not a bad way to punctuate your first MLS start.

With the lead secured, the Loons didn’t look back. The pressure continued to build as they transitioned from growing into the game to outright dominating it, and the shifting play of the wingbacks gave a freedom and flexibility to the squad that completely scrambled the hosts.

This momentum carried over into the second half, thanks in no small part to the tremendous efforts of the midfield three. Their solidity allowed Fragapane and Lod to show their creativity in the 49th minute, combining to finish off an immaculate team goal and double the lead. This goal brought our favorite Finnish archer up to 27 MNUFC goals, making him the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. Thank you, Robin; we’re excited for more.

But the scoring fest wasn’t done just yet. Four minutes later, the visitors were back for more, as Hassani Dotson put away the club’s first corner goal of the year after finding enough space in the box to rise up and hit home. This third goal was very much the nail in the coffin, sucking the air out of the stadium and sealing all three points.

Charlotte continued to try and get something going, but the narrow shape of the visitors allowed the Loons to control the game completely, leaving little to no room for creativity without something truly special. Ultimately, the Crown were unable to find that special spark, and it was MNUFC that got their fully deserved victory.

A shakeup in personnel created opportunities for the Loons, allowing them to shift their tactical plan at the same time. Oluwaseyi’s link-up play and ambitious runs were both dangerous and unique, offering a change of pace for his side. His calm and decisive demeanor saw him play with a maturity beyond his years, and as his teammates began to get used to his tendencies, he looked like he might’ve bagged a couple more goals if he’d gotten 90 minutes.

In the back, the holding play of Kervin Arriaga, mixed with the expertly executed wingback play, was the platform from which everything positive was made possible. Likewise, the compact defensive work of the forward players funneled the opposition into the least threatening positions possible, making for a united and dominant performance.

Today’s win puts the Loons back into the top five of the Western Conference, and with a home match against SKC up next, they’ll be hoping to keep the positive momentum going. Catch MNUFC at Allianz Field next Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m., with streaming available on MLS Season Pass.