The Rapids were more like a lazy river tonight, as the Loons coolly dispatched their visitors with a 3-0 scoreline, and they seemed to have a great time doing it. With three points all but secured by the half, it was a fantastic night at Allianz Field.
The match began fairly evenly, with both teams testing the waters early on. However, Colorado’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 17th minute, surrendering a PK to the ever-elusive moves of Emanuel Reynoso. Minnesota’s favorite number 10 stepped up to convert the penalty he won, sending the keeper the wrong direction with confidence. 1-0, Loons, and we’re just getting started.
Following the goal, MNUFC really grew into the game, thoroughly dominating and executing their game plan with authority. Jan Gregus’ strong presence in the middle of the pitch was a welcome sight, with the Slovakian midfielder showing a familiarity that may have left fans questioning if he ever really left the Twin Cities after all. Paired with Wil Trapp, the Loons’ midfield was strong and efficient.
In the 28th minute, lightning struck once more, as Rey pounced on Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s rebounded shot. With the lead doubled and the Loons rolling, Colorado was facing a tough road back before the game even hit the half-hour mark.
But the halftime whistle couldn’t save them. Pukki put the cherry on top right before the half with a clinical finish in the 43rd minute. The Finn had been getting into dangerous positions all night, but it was ITS’s perfect through ball that finally gave him the chance to get on the scoresheet.
After such a dominant display in the opening 45, the second half felt more like a formality than a necessary part of the contest. 45 minutes remained, but the match was already over.
Colorado appeared to have little to no fight left in them after coming out of the locker room, looking more like the Babbling Brooks of Boulder. They definitely missed the presence of William Yarborough in net on the night, but the problems appeared to go deeper than that.
A professional performance from the Loons front-loaded the action in this one, while a composed finish saw them hold the result and teach Colorado a lesson. When you get your work done early, there’s always the temptation to sit back and relax. MNUFC kept their heads for 90 minutes tonight, playing a nearly flawless game and truly earning all three points.
The Black and Blue were firing on all cylinders tonight, but a few Loons stood out. Obviously, goalscorers Rey and Pukki had good notes, staying dangerous throughout the entirety of their time on the pitch. Joseph Rosales put in a magnificent shift at left back, getting up and down the pitch and taking care of whatever dirty work was required of him. In his first league start for the club, winger Ismael Tajouri-Shradi showed his quality early and often. His creativity and workrate were invaluable, fueling so much of what the Loons did well.
While the “We want four” chants ultimately went unanswered, it was a fantastic night for your Loons, from back to front. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair overtook Bobby Shuttleworth for the most saves in club history, with five on the night. Another clean sheet for the back line will do wonders for the team’s confidence moving forward. This result pushes MNUFC above the playoff line for now, and with a game in hand, they’ll be hoping to tighten their grip in the weeks to come.
After two home games in a row, it’s time for MNUFC to once again hit the road. They’ll be taking on the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday at PayPal Park, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT, with streaming available on MLS Season Pass.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota United FC
PayPal Park | San Jose, California
09.02.23 | MLS Game 26
9:30 pm CT (Streaming on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)