MNUFC2 made their home competitive debut on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Field on a properly Minnesotan day, with snowflakes in the air and all. The Loons were unable to recover from a very early setback and finished with a 2-0 loss to Sporting KC II.
A game that featured three decent chances within its first two minutes was bound to have a goal somewhere early. On Minnesota’s very first attack of the game, Justin McMaster went down just outside the penalty area under some duress, but the tackle was judged to be clean. Thirty seconds later, Fred Emmings was required to make a spectacular save as Rauf Salifu received a cross at the edge of the six-yard box and shot. Emmings made the initial save and pushed the ball away after it bounced off of both of his legs.
It took just thirty more seconds for the game’s third attack to be deadly. Sporting once again got out on the break, as they had for Salifu’s opportunity. This time, the cross came from the left, and an unmarked Collin Fernandez made no mistake and gave Emmings no chance. Minnesota trailed less than two minutes into the game.
The attack would not go quietly into the afternoon air, however. In the 11th minute, Niko Hansen worked a one-two into the right side of the box with McMaster and stung a ball off the very corner of the post and crossbar over a charging Kendall McIntosh.
Minnesota maintained a possession advantage for the final twenty minutes of the first half but were unable to find an advantage. McMaster had one opportunity from the corner in the 32nd minute, but SKC were able to clear their lines, and his attempt from outside the box a few minutes later was easily saved by McIntosh.
Cameron Knowles made one change at halftime, bringing Aziel Jackson in to replace Tommy Williamson. Jackson was almost immediately involved, setting McMaster up for a great chance in the 49th minute. However, McIntosh was up to the task, parrying away a shot from the middle of the eighteen-yard box. Five minutes later, Jackson sent Hansen clear through on goal, but McIntosh read the play and charged to smother the ball from Hansen’s feet.
On the other side, Emmings was called into action once again as a Julian Vazquez shot deflected off of the leg of Devin Padelford towards the near top corner, but Emmings adjusted and made a great save to push it over the bar. Unfortunately, that warning was followed by Sporting’s second goal. A Minnesota attack broke down and Kansas City broke away, giving Fernandez time to pick the perfect ball for Minnesota native Mataeo Bunbury. Emmings didn’t get out to Bunbury at the edge of the box in time, and Bunbury curled the shot around his charge and into the goal.
The Loons pushed to prevent the clean sheet, with Jacori Hayes and Veljko Petkovirć coming on to aid the attack, but were unable to break through. Despite their advantages in crosses (33-7), corners (6-3), and shots on goal (5-3), Minnesota could not solve Kendall McIntosh, and 2-0 was the final.
Hansen, McMaster and Jackson drew the eye for Minnesota, with all central to Minnesota’s best chances of the game. Hansen finished the game with almost 94% passing across 90 minutes, and Jackson’s 0.26 xA led the team for the entire game, even though he only played the second half.
Real Monarchs vs. MNUFC2
Zions Bank Stadium | Herriman, UT
04.08.22 | MLS NEXT Pro Week 3
9:00 pm CT | Steam live at mlsnextpro.com