MNUFC2 welcomed the Western Conference leaders into the National Sports Center Stadium on Monday night and promptly showed the Tacoma Defiance out the door with a 2-1 defeat following a late game-winning goal by Loons midfielder Sagir Arce.

The first 45 minutes ended scoreless, but were certainly not lifeless. Both defenses showed strong grit, fending off entries into either of the attacking thirds. For MNUFC2 defensively, in the 18th minute, right-back defender Carlos Leatherman ran back to cover the goal line, clearing the ball just before it crossed into the goal. Offensively, Minnesota midfielders Aziel Jackson and Justin McMaster, alongside forward Tommy Williamson, all had multiple chances created in front of goal that resulted in either a blocked shot or shots that missed just wide of the target. The scoring came in the second half when Tacoma’s Abdoulaye Cissoko converted on a penalty kick attempt in the 71st minute, giving the visiting side the 1-0 lead. But, Aziel Jackson found the ball from an Ignacio Gutierrez pass and curled a shot from 18-yards out, scoring the equalizer for the Loons just three minutes later. In the second minute of added stoppage time, Minnesota would have it’s game-winner when attacking midfielder Sagir Arce scored to steal victory from the leaders of the MLS Next Pro Western conference.

With the victory, MNUFC2 moves up to the sixth position in the MLS Next Pro Western Conference standings (8-7-4, 31 points). Notably, MNUFC2 is now unbeaten in its last three matches (2-0-1) dating back to the 3-1 victory over Timbers2 at home (July 31).

MNUFC2 next hosts the Real Monarchs on Sunday, August 21 at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minnesota. Kick is set for 8:00 p.m. CT, and the contest will be streamed live at www.mlsnextpro.com.

0-1 TAC – Abdoulaye Cissoko (71’)
1-1 MIN – Aziel Jackson, Assist by Ignacio Gutierrez (74’)
2-1 MIN – Sagir Arce, Assist by Aziel Jackson (90’+2’)

Yellow, MIN – Ignacio Gutierrez (45’)
Yellow, MIN – Nabi Kibunguchy (46’)
Yellow, TAC – Joe Hafferty (51’)
Yellow, TAC – Travian Sousa (79’)
Yellow, TAC – Reed Baker-Whiting (83’)
Yellow, MIN – Aziel Jackson (88’)
Yellow, TAC – Valentin Sabella (89’)

6 – With his six key passes against Tacoma on Monday night, midfielder Aziel Jackson remains the league leader in chances created with 49 on the season, eight above the next player
17-7 – MNUFC2 outshot the Western Conference leaders 17-7 while edging Tacoma on shots on target 7-3
5 – Defender and captain Jason Ramos had five clearances on the night, leading the team. Ramos also led the Loons with three successful tackles against the Defiance
3 – With Monday night’s victory, Minnesota is riding a three-match unbeaten streak
3 – Loons goalkeeper Alec Smir picked up his third win on the season Monday night, making one save against Tacoma

TEAM LEADERS (Updated through August 15)
Goals – Tommy Williamson (9)
Assists – Aziel Jackson (7)
Saves – Fred Emmings (33)
Wins – Fred Emmings & Alec Smir (3)
Shutouts – Eric Dick (2)

HIGHLIGHTS: MNUFC2 vs. Tacoma Defiance | August 15, 2022