Minnesota United bowed out of the 2023 U.S. Open Cup tonight after a 4-0 loss at the hands of Houston Dynamo. Despite moments of hope, it was a night dominated by mistakes and misfortune for the Loons, leaving them without any real answers for an efficient Houston side.
Admittedly, the Loons looked sharp early on. Smooth passing and patient buildup found them creating decent chances, despite a lack of real urgency coming from either side.
Though they started the match on the front foot, MNUFC found themselves on the wrong end of a strange momentum shift in the 25th minute.
It all started with an Andrew Tarbell save, denying Bongi a second goal against the Dynamo in just six days. The ensuing restart appeared to release Houston on a counterattack, but a fortunate throw-in call kept a Loons giveaway from turning into a 1v1 for Clint Irwin. From that point on, Houston seemed to wake up, creating more chances and generally finding ways to annoy the Black and Blue whenever they could.
Despite looking the better side, Minnesota United gave up an unfortunate penalty in the 33rd minute. Corey Baird fired the home side into a surprise lead from the spot, firmly and totally shifting the momentum in favor of El Naranja.
The slightly chippy edge to the game came to a head in the 38th minute, when the pressure on Kervin Arriaga forced a costly turnover and a foul from the Honduran, earning him his second yellow card of the night. Now down a goal and a man, the Loons were suddenly in a hole of their own making after a wild five-minute span.
Halftime couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors, but the second 45 provided no relief. Houston dominated the game with their man advantage, keeping possession and exposing gaps in the opposition. The Black and Blue tried to play damage control and hit on the counter, but the pressure was too much.
A fantastic through ball from Amine Bassi allowed Corey Baird to double the advantage in the 68th minute, and he didn’t stop there. Baird ended the match with a hat trick and an assist. Substitute Ibrahim Aliyu was lively after coming on in the 62nd minute, earning a goal and an assist to truly put the game to bed.
Though MNUFC showed moments of fight and effort, the game was essentially finished after the second goal. Coming from behind is difficult from a mental standpoint; such difficulties are only exacerbated when you’re trying to do it with 10 men.
While the positives were harder to see in this performance, there were indeed bright spots for the Loons. Their early play demonstrated an ability to manipulate the ball that has been absent for stretches of the season. Were it not for the unfortunate handball and sending-off, this game could’ve easily had a very different complexion.
Minnesota United will return to MLS action this weekend when they host Real Salt Lake. They’ll be hoping to shake off this midweek tilt and earn their third league win in a row.
Minnesota United FC vs. Real Salt Lake
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
05.27.22 | MLS Game 14
7:30 pm CT (Watch on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)