A week after a pair of disappointing games that saw Minnesota United up a man for 138 and only one goal and two points to show for it, the Loons flew south to face the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium — a venue where they had never won in MLS. Although they fell behind before the echoes of the opening whistle had even died out, the squad rallied behind a brace from forward Adrien Hunou to win 2-1, claim all three points and extend the Dynamo’s winless streak to 15 games.
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start in Houston. The teams had barely started to break a sweat before the Dynamo drew first blood in the first minute. Midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla headed the ball wide to Fafa Picault, who sent it back centrally for Carrasquilla who struck a deflected ball that beat goalkeeper Tyler Miller to put the home side on top 1-0.
Without Emanuel Reynoso, Minnesota at first struggled to get creative in the attacking third. The Loons are accustomed to Reynoso dictating the pace and direction of play and without their maestro they were at something of a loss initially. But rather than pushing Minnesota out of their comfort zone, the Dynamo appeared to sit back in a very low block, giving Minnesota’s deep-lying midfielders — Osvaldo Alonso and Wil Trapp — time to cycle the ball and find gaps.
In the 16th minute, Minnesota took advantage of a free kick to get back on level terms. With Trapp filling in for the absent Reynoso on set pieces, the midfielder sent a curling free kick into the box, where Ethan Finlay pinged it back across the face of goal and directly onto the foot of forward Adrien Hunou for his third goal of the year and his first in nine games.
Playing at home, though, Houston were far from out of it. They displayed some trickery on their set pieces, mixing in short passes and delayed runs to throw Minnesota’s defense off, but one defender who remained unflappable throughout was Tyler Miller. Miller ended the night with four saves, each of them crucial in the end and he played aggressively often, coming out of his box to stymie attacks and snatch down dangerous crosses.
Fafa Picault was responsible for much of that danger on the night, speeding down the wings and making life difficult for Romain Metanire. In the 32nd minute, the Brazilian carved out enough space to launch a curled shot that struck the very corner of the crossbar and the right post, just barely missing the chance to scoot inside the woodwork. A good bit of luck and a much-improved MNUFC defense from that opening minute kept the game level through the end of the first half.
With both teams vying for the lead, the second half opened up a bit more than the first. Midfielder Jacori Hayes had to leave the field with an injury in the 59th minute, and he was replaced by the Loons’ newest acquisition, forward Fanendo Adi. Adi slid in up top, moving Hunou to a secondary striker role and the Frenchman feasted.
In the 73rd minute, Metanire had a long throw-in to Adi, which Adi shielded long enough to flip a cheeky backheel to an onrushing Ethan Finlay. Finlay bobbled it momentarily before settling it and finding Hunou on the secondary run. Hunou struck a right-footed shot cleanly past goalkeeper Michael Nelson, who was making his first MLS start. The goal gave Hunou a brace and put Minnesota ahead 2-1.
While the Loons no doubt would have loved to get an insurance goal and only their third win by multiple goals this season, it was clear that they were content to hang onto the lead they had when defender Jukka Raitala came in for Hunou in the 78th minute. As the Dynamo threw everything they had forward, the MNUFC defense stood tall, especially Miller, who pulled off big saves down the stretch to hold the lead and get Minnesota all three points in the end.
MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Lumen Field | Seattle, Washington
09.11.21 | MLS Week No. 22 | MLS Game No. 22
4:00 p.m. CT (Bally Sports North+, The CW Twin Cities, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)