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Recap | MNUFC - 2, Chicago - 3


Thursday night’s match in St. Paul was Chicago Fire’s debut match in Leagues Cup play, and by all accounts, the long layover looked to do them no favors…at least early on. With dark storm clouds swirling in the skies above Allianz Field, MNUFC and Chicago would spend much of the first half doing a bit of back and forth to see if someone would flinch first. When playing a primetime drama like Chicago Fire, fans usually expect to see more action-packed sequences but, unfortunately, the first half had little to none in the way of plot twists from either squad.

Following Mr. Brightside, the Loons returned to the pitch with a bit more pep in their step and made more aggressive runs into dangerous spaces around Chicago’s net. In the 52nd minute, the first bit of excitement to bring a collective “ooooh” from the Loons faithful would be Kervin Arriaga’s free kick from about 20 yards out that skimmed just over the crossbar. But, it would be in the 62nd minute when one Bongokuhle Freaking Hlongwane would truly give the fans something to stand up and go nuts for when his short range kick from the center of the box would find the net and get the show started. 1-0, waterfowl.

After being subbed on in the 66th minute, it would be Chicago midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who would play the part of foil when he was awarded a fairly generous penalty kick from a fairly soft foul on Captain Trapp to bring the match even in the 69th minute. 1-1…allegedly. But, Bongi wouldn’t let the tie stand for long, as Franco Fragapane would get in on the fun when his header in the 73rd minute found Hlongwane ready to serve up a spicy meatball past the reach of Chicago keeper Spencer Richey. 2-1, Bongi.

But, despite all the Bongi the Loons were able to throw at Chicago, the real plot twists in tonight’s episode would be, unfortunately, at the Loons expense. The short-lived lead would draw even once more in the 79th minute when Chicago fullback Miguel Navarro’s cross to defensive counterpart Arnaud Souquet who would slip past a diving Dayne St. Clair and into the bottom right corner of the net. 2-2, meh. While the draw would have been enough drama for Loons fans to deal with for the evening, Chicago Fire still had one more spoiler alert to deliver in the 83rd minute. This time around it would be ageless wonder Kei Kamara that would add more rain on the Loons’ parade when he did that thing he has done often in his illustrious career…score. His header would put Chicago ahead 3-2 right before a weather delay would send both teams back to the locker rooms temporarily.

The lightning would subside long enough for MNUFC to return to the pitch and try to bring the match even once more, but one more score wasn’t in the cards for the boys tonight. A disheartening ending to a match that looked to be in the Loons control through much of the second half, only to have Chicago take a flamethrower to that concept in the waning minutes. 

BUT, while the win would have been much more satisfying, the Loons aggregate score in Central Group 2 was enough for the boys to at least clinch a spot in the knockout round of Leagues Cup. Now, the Black and Blue will wait to find out who they will be facing when they play again on August 4. We shall see…


Minnesota United FC vs. TBD

? Field | City, State 

08.04.23 | Leagues Cup | Knockout Stage

?:00 pm CT (Watch on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)