Oh Canada, with glowing hearts we saw thee fall. The True North prevails! Only one hot streak continued tonight, as Minnesota United came back from a goal down to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1. Although there were nervy moments, a strong finish saw the Loons overwhelm a tired Vancouver side late in the second half.
The first half was exactly what fans would have expected; two in-form teams giving one another everything they could handle. Despite a relative lack of clear opportunities for both teams, possession favored the Loons slightly and the intensity remained high throughout the half. Some creative play from both sides seemed to promise that goals were on the way.
Initially, the Loons appeared to have the upper hand. They came out of kickoff like a sprinter out of the blocks, quickly getting into Vancouver’s penalty area and staying there. Though they applied pressure and put the ball into some dangerous areas with quick play, nothing ultimately came from their speedy start.
Before too long, Vancouver settled into the game. Scottish playmaker Ryan Gauld appeared to be everywhere for the Whitecaps, coming back on defense, creating chances, and being the catalyst of everything good for his team. Between Gauld’s tireless work rate and Cristian Dajome’s speed in transition, the Canadians seemed to be on the front foot from the 15th to about the 25th minute.
The remainder of the half saw both sides get into a few dangerous positions. The Loons most dynamic player in the half was Bongokuhle Hlongwane, whose battle with Dajome challenged in both the attack and defense. He was involved in creating a late spurt of chances, from which Minnesota were unlucky not to find the opening goal. They had to settle for a 0-0 scoreline at the halftime whistle.
When the game restarted, things picked up right where they left off. This time, it was Vancouver’s turn to come out strong, marching down the field and unleashing several shots in the first five minutes. A Ryan Gauld effort went narrowly wide, but the onslaught barely slowed.
MNUFC was able to find their feet before too long, as Emanuel Reynoso began to get involved, and Hlongwane continued his efforts from the first half. A pair of narrow misses in the 58th and 59th minutes saw the Loons hit the crossbar, coming oh-so-close to finding the opener.
The game continued at an energetic pace. Vancouver once again came at the Loons, bolstered by the presence and play of their leading goalscorer, Lucas Cavallini, after he was subbed on in the 63rd minute. Shortly after, Gauld once again unleashed a wicked shot, beating Dayne St. Clair, but failing to beat the goalpost.
The Loons luck seemed to run out in the 66th, when a Cavallini goal finished off a fantastic passage of play from the Whitecaps. But, with more than 20 minutes left, Minnesota wasn’t done yet.
Just five minutes later, industrious attacking play from MNUFC led to a glorious DJ Taylor cross. It found Jamaican international Kemar Lawrence completely unmarked at the back post, where he slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
A brief dip in play followed, as tired legs began to take their toll. Some late subs came on to freshen things up, but it wasn’t a substitute that ultimately made the difference.
In the 84th, when the game seemed destined to end in a draw, Luis Amarilla decided to send a contender to SportsCenter’s Top Ten.
With the ball on his left foot and no pressure around him, Amarilla sent a thunderbolt into the left side of the net for the breathtaking go-ahead goal. This was the striker’s fifth goal of the season, and what a way to score it.
Whammy. Can’t ask for much more than that, right?
Evidently, Franco Fragapane can. Following a massive kick from Dayne St. Clair, Fragapane sent Cody Cropper packing with a fake shot before burying the ball in the top-right corner of the net to seal the game for the Loons.
When Emanuel Reynoso was taken out of large parts of the game by the opposing defense, MNUFC needed to find goals elsewhere. Today, they were able to do that in spectacular fashion.
Three wins, three games in which they scored three goals, and three points for Minnesota United. Good things come in threes, right? With this win, MNUFC have 27 points, good enough to put them firmly in the playoff race. Though this match week is not yet over, the Loons are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference. This resilient, come-from-behind victory precedes a two-game home stand for Minnesota United, beginning with a matchup against last place Sporting KC on Wednesday, July 13 as a part of Heineken Rivalry Week.
Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
Allianz Field | St. Paul, MN
07.13.22 | MLS regular season game no. 20
7:00 p.m. CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)