MNUFC2 continued its unbeaten streak, extending it to four matches after a 1-1 draw with Real Monarchs Sunday night. A defender Nabi Kibunguchy header goal alongside a standout performance in the shootout by goalkeeper Alec Smir led the Loons to two crucial points on the night.
It was a tactical battle in the first half of the match between the Loons and Monarchs with much of the action happening in the midfield. Between the two sides, only five of the 16 combined shots were on target. Nearly a half hour into the contest, the Real Monarchs found open space past the Minnesota back line where Axel Kei passed the ball to teammate Tyrone Mondi who tapped in the shot to give the visitors the 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. But MNUFC2 persisted and earned a corner kick in the 40th minute. Midfielder Justin McMaster took the pass from the corner, sending the ball in where defender Nabilai Kibunguchy leaped above the Salt Lake City back line and headed the ball into the net, equalizing the match a 1-1 before half. Goalkeeper Alec Smir would make four saves in regulation, two of which were off his finger-tips, to keep the score 1-1 in regulation. In the shootout, Sagir Arce, Tani Oluwaseyi and Aziel Jackson all converted on their attempts while Justin McMaster’s shot was saved. But the Loons keeper then made three consecutive saves after the Monarch’s first successful attempt, giving MNUFC2 the crucial two points against the Utah side.
With the draw and shootout win (two points), MNUFC2 moves up to the fifth position in the MLS Next Pro Western Conference standings (8-7-5, 33 points). Notably, MNUFC2 is now unbeaten in its last four matches (2-0-2) dating back to the 3-1 victory over Timbers2 at home (July 31).
MNUFC2 next hosts Houston Dynamo 2 on Saturday, August 27 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota following the conclusion of the MNUFC vs Houston Dynamo match. Kick is set for 6:00 p.m. CT, and the contest will be streamed live at www.mlsnextpro.com.
0-1 SLC – Tyrone Mondi, Assist by Axel Kei (28’)
1-1 MIN – Nabilai Kibunguchy, Assist by Justin McMaster (40’)
Yellow, MIN – Carlos Leatherman (32’)
Yellow, SLC – Christian Nydegger (80’)
3 – Goalkeeper Alec Smir made three consecutive saves in the shootout to secure the two points against Real Monarchs
3 – Aziel Jackson and Nick Mendonca led the team with three key passes on the night. Jackson leads the league in chances created with 52 so far this season
4 – With the shootout win, MNUFC2 has won four shootouts during the regular season, tied with Colorado Rapids 2 and Rochester New York FC for the most in the league
TEAM LEADERS (Updated through August 21)
Goals – Tommy Williamson (9)
Assists – Aziel Jackson (7)
Saves – Fred Emmings (33)
Wins – Fred Emmings & Alec Smir (3)
Shutouts – Eric Dick (2)