The international break gave Minnesota United the chance to get some injured players health and some new players acclimated, and the Loons came into Dallas for forward Adrien Hunou’s second game and Franco Fragapane’s first and in search of another result to help them get up the table. Things looked good early as Fragapane’s first goal in MLS broke the game open in the first half, but Dallas could come back in the second as Ricard Pepi scored in the 68th minute to pull even. Ultimately, the teams would split the points and Minnesota would head home to prepare for Austin FC on Wednesday.
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Perhaps buoyed by a recent spate of hot weather in the Twin Cities, Minnesota United began the game against Dallas in spritely fashion, closing down aggressively following turnovers and finding room down the right side to set up crosses into the box. Just two minutes in, though, Bakaye Dibassy earned a yellow card for a stern challenge, putting one of the Loons’ most important defenders in a precarious position for the rest of the game.
In the eighth minute, midfielder Franco Fragapane flashed the nose for the ball that got him to Minnesota. Midfielder Hassani Dotson’s cross came off a Dallas defender but landed at Fragapane’s feet and the Argentine took his first MLS shot, sending it just wide of the far post. Niko Hansen — who drew the Loons level late against RSL — also continued his hot streak as the cause havoc cutting into the box from the right just as Fragapane did on the left.
Through the first half-hour, MNUFC maintained their control of the game as they set up shop in Dallas’ end and earned corners and sent in crosses, but in the 30th minute, midfielder Paxton Pomykal tried to pop a pass over the top of the defense from the right wing and caught Wil Trapp’s arm, leading to a dangerous free kick that would ultimately go high and wide without finding a target in the box. Moments later, Dallas’ Jader Obrian was played through onto goal by a beautiful pass, but was whistled offside.
With the home side working to pitch the battle in their favor, the visitors climbed into the driver’s seat in the 36th minute. After wrestling the ball away from recent acquisition Facundo Quignon, midfielder Jacori Hayes led the team on a long run up the field before centering the ball to Adrien Hunou. The forward rounded on the shot and drilled it at goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, leaving Maurer with little option but to punch it clear. The ball landed directly in the path of Fragapane and Fragapane finished it off for his first MLS goal in his MNUFC debut to put the Loons on top 1-0.
The goal galvanized the attack and Minnesota followed up that first goal with chances for Hunou and Dotson coming before the break, but the teams would go into the locker room with the visitors ahead by a goal.
The second half began with FC Dallas seizing the moment and tipping the battle in their favor. Out of the gates, they put the screws to Minnesota and kept them pinned in their own final third, but the Loons did well to weather the storm with a solid defensive shape, plus timely interventions as in the 51st minute when Obrian found himself open and onside in the box only to be turned away by a clutch slide tackle from midfielder Wil Trapp.
In the 67th minute, Head Coach Adrian Heath went to his bench, bringing in Ethan Finlay for Niko Hansen on the right wing and Osvaldo Alonso for Jacori Hayes in the midfield. The reinforcements couldn’t grab control of the tempo immediately though and in the 68th minute, forward Ricardo Pepi wriggled free along the backline and tracked a short pass from Ryan Hollingshead that put him on Tyler Miller’s doorstep. Pepi launched a shot that curled inside of the far post and drew Dallas level at 1-1.
With everything even, neither team seemed content to let it end that way. Finlay provided a spark off the bench, sending in a deft cross in the 70th minute that found Hunou, but Hunou couldn’t slip it past Maurer, who had a strong showing on the night overall. Emanuel Reynoso and Ramon Abila came in from the bench for Wil Trapp and Adrien Hunou, and the two Argentines put together some tantalizing interplay in the final third. In the 81st minute, the two combined for a sequence that got Reynoso the ball in the box and a good look at goal, but he simply mishit it wide right.
In the dying moments, things first got chippy as Franco Jara and Michael Boxall got into a bit of scuffle at midfield, and then they opened up as each team led breaks back and forth, but neither could ultimately find the final ball they needed. The game ended a 1-1 draw and Minnesota United collected their first-ever point at Toyota Stadium.
BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH
- 36' | Jacori Hayes wrestles control of the ball and pushes up the right wing before sending in a cross to Hunou who drills a shot that Maurer gets a hand on but can't control. The ball rolls wide to Fragapane and the Argentine has his first MLS goal. 1-0
- 68' | GOAL. Ricardo Pepi gets free along the backline and rips in a left-footed shot that curls in around Miller to draw Dallas level. 1-1
MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. AUSTIN FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
06.23.2021 | MLS Week No. 9 | MLS Game No. 9
7:00 p.m. CT (Bally Sports North, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)