You’d be forgiven if you thought the Premier League team was wearing black and blue tonight, as Minnesota United showed an English Premier League side that this is the land of soccer, not football. The Loons hosted one of the world’s most historic clubs on Wednesday night, when Everton F.C. came to town for an international friendly match. An entertaining game ended in favor of the hosts, and boy was it fun.
From the very beginning, this was a proper football match. While it may have been a friendly, Minnesota United left their manners at kickoff, applying high pressure from the jump and refusing to give Everton anything easy.
This high press approach opened the Loons up to counter attacks, several of which were only inches away from being tapped in. However, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, not in the beautiful game.
A solid Toffees backline shut down everything MNUFC got started, while a stretched Loons squad continued to do just enough to stymie their opponents at the other end. About 15 minutes in, it looked as though the first goal would blow the game wide open
Fans didn’t have to wait too long to see that goal. Silky footwork from Emanuel Reynoso led to his cross being handled by Everton’s Tom Davies in the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick in the 18th minute. The man who won it took it, as Rey sent Jordan Pickford the wrong direction to earn the Loons a 1-0 lead.
Following the go-ahead goal, the energy stayed high for both sides, though Minnesota United appeared to have found another gear. Everton’s chances began to get fewer and far between, as the Loons took advantage of an apparently knackered opposition.
In the 32nd minute, the pressure once again paid off, as a Kemar Lawrence cross caught a sliding Michael Keane and found its way into the Everton net. The own goal put the home team up 2-0, and they looked eager for more. Cheers, Michael, but we didn’t need any extra help. No dodgy business around here, alright mate?
Before the halftime whistle could save them, a DJ Taylor shot was deflected in front of the Everton goal, where MNUFC’s Luis Amarilla shepherded it into the net for the emphatic 3-0 lead. What began as a high energy, end-to-end game had turned into a comedy of errors for the Toffees.
Both teams reached deep into their rosters, with each manager utilizing many substitutes at the half. Minnesota United saw 11 substitutes start the second half, including first-half sub Jacori Hayes and several MNUFC2 regulars. Among these Loon substitutes was new-guy Alan Benítez, making his debut for the club.
A fast start saw chances at both ends, but the Loons were riding high. They appeared to grow in confidence with each passing moment, putting together beautiful combination plays and finding a rhythm that Everton just couldn’t match.
The pressure continued to build all the way up to the 71st minute, when an Alan Benítez cross found Abu Danladi to redirect it into the net. MNUFC found themselves up 4-0 with less than 20 minutes to play. Legend has it, the sound of Wonderwall could be heard in the distance as Danladi celebrated his well-deserved goal.
As the final minutes ticked past, a visibly frustrated Everton side saw their play decline severely, allowing the Loons to cruise to a comfortable win.
The second half was simply a smorgasbord of joy for Loons fans. They outclassed a Premier League team, saw impressive first team debuts from both Benítez and Emmanuel Iwe, and got a goal to cap it off. 4-0 is a good scoreline any night, but a 4-0 win against a Premier League team has a nice ring to it.
Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC
PNC Stadium | Houston, Texas
07.23.22 | MLS Game 22
7:30 pm CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA and 1500 ESPN)