It may have only been fourteen seconds after kick-off, but the Loons were a little tardy to their own party at Allianz Field on Saturday afternoon. That’s all the time it took for Portland’s Jaroslaw Niezgoda to make a long connection with striker Sebastián Blanco, whose left-footed shot from the center of the box found the corner of the net.
After hitting the snooze button off the kickoff, the wake-up call came through loud and clear.
The boys got up and at ‘em a short time after that when, in the 9th minute, Franco Fragapane headed one home from the six-yard box off an Emanuel Reynoso corner kick that ricocheted off Luis Amarilla’s head.
Not long after that, it was time for Bongokuhle Hlongwane to follow up his first MLS goal with his first MLS scoring streak, booting one from the center of the box to the top shelf of the net, putting the Loons ahead 2-1. More importantly, Bongi’s goal gave the home crowd a chance to see his newly-christened goal celebration. It’s the little things, ya know?
The match was not lacking chippiness, as both teams played a physical brand of defense to match the aggressive attack of both squads. Also, it was a hot one outside, which tends to add an extra level of surliness into the mix. Before the squads could get each other too roughed up going into half, Fragapane connected with Luis Amarilla on a fast break that ended up on the left side of the box to the bottom right corner of the net. That put the Loons up heading into the locker room with a 3-1 advantage.
Unfortunately for our boys, the Timbers didn’t come out of the half with a game plan to roll over and die. In the 50th minute, they made their intentions known when Sebastián Blanco found the net for the second time. If the Loons were still confused about the game plan, it would only take three minutes for them to catch on, as Jaroslaw Niezgoda headed another one to suddenly turn a two-goal advantage into a no-goal advantage, with the Timbers ever so quickly knotting things up at three goals a piece. If that wasn’t enough stress for the home crowd, the Kemar Lawrence own goal in the 65th minute surely didn’t lower anyone’s blood pressure. 4-3, Timbers.
While that easily could have taken the wind out of Minnesota United’s sails, they fought back and flashed some grit in doing so. In the 69th minute, Luis Amarilla’s close-range boot found the net to give the Loons a boost in the face of adversity and once again brought the scoring even at 4-4.
From there, it was the soccer version of a slugfest, with both Portland and MNUFC getting their opportunities to regain the scoring advantage. Despite the best efforts of both teams’ attacks, the match would go the distance without a tiebreaker to keep the score even when the game-ending whistle blew. While there’s no doubt Minnesota United would have preferred three points to one in terms of the Western Conference standings, not to mention holding on to a commanding 3-1 score at half, they’ll still take the point.
Next up for MNUFC is a date in the Rockies with Colorado Rapids, August 6 at 8 p.m. CT.
Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC
Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO
08.06.22 | MLS Game 24
8:00 pm CT (MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA,The CW - Twin Cities,1500 ESPN)