Minnesota United fans didn’t have the luxury of choosing if they wanted the good news or the bad news before kicking off Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Fire. The bad news came first, with the news that Loons midfielder Hassani Dotson’s 2022 campaign was over after suffering a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee and due to undergo surgery in the coming days.

The other bad news? The Chicago Fire, the best defense in MLS, were paying a visit to Allianz Field to take on the Loons with stalwart midfielder and international superstar Xherdan Shaqiri back in the starting lineup after missing the past few games due to injury.

Thankfully, the good news would be delivered in the form of the Loons most complete outing of the 2022 MLS Season. A performance that saw a defensive effort from the United back four that was disruptive to the Chicago attack throughout the entire day, never allowing them to get any sort of rhythm going.

The Loon offense, on the other hand, looked a bit out of sorts to start the match. While there was no shortage of opportunities throughout the half, finding the back of the net was difficult to come by for both squads in the early going. Chicago’s defense, true to their reputation, was stout in its first half efforts, holding the United attack at bay throughout the first half.

Although they started the second half in similar fashion to the first, the Loons attack would save their best for the rest of the half. Before the barrage began, Dayne St. Clair once again made his presence felt with a spectacular save in the 55th minute, and then again in the 64th minute of play.

It’s the kind of brilliance shown throughout the match that led the way toward another clean-sheet effort from St. Clair. In the 61st minute, Coach Adrian Heath decided to impart his first substitutions of the match, swapping out Franco Fragapane and Luis Amarilla to bring in Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Abu Danladi. The move added a refreshed pace and energy to the wings that saw its payoff play out in the 71st minute of play, as Emanuel Reynoso drew first blood with a dart from the center of the box to the corner of the net.

Once Fire defender Federico Navarro earned a red card and early end to his day, the Loons kept the goals coming. They utilized the eleven to ten advantage in the 83rd minute off a well-booted Reynoso corner in prime location for a header, courtesy of Kervin Arriaga.

The Wonderwall was at a fever pitch behind the Chicago net in the second half. Then, in the 87th minute, they really hit their high notes, as Robin Lod capped off an impressive offensive surge using his quick feet for one last quick strike before the clock ran out.

In the face of the league’s best defense, the Loons 3-0 win was a statement match for a squad in the midst of a three-game winning streak. And as the calendar turns to May, Minnesota United hopes to keep its fortunes trending upwards as they prepare for a tough matchup on the left coast against a formidable LAFC squad.

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Los Angeles FC vs. Minnesota United FC

Banc of California Stadium | Los Angeles, CA

05.01.22 | MLS Game 9

9:00 p.m. CT (FS1, FOX Deportes, SKOR North)