It was a disappointing trip to the Beehive State for Minnesota United on Wednesday night, as they fell to Real Salt Lake by a score of 3-0. A heavily rotated squad for the Loons proved unable to keep up with an inspired RSL side, despite utilizing all five of their substitutions in the second half. This one stings a bit.
The field was extremely spread out in the opening minutes, as both teams took turns switching the point of attack to drive the ball into the final third. A relatively slow pace defined these early moments while each squad simply tried to feel out the opposing eleven and ease into the match.
The first true chance came about in the 7th minute, when an RSL cross was headed into the air by MNUFC defender Brent Kallman, only to fall to the chest of RSL’s Sergio Cordova. Cordova found himself unmarked, with plenty of time to take a touch, set himself up and slot his shot to the right of Dayne St. Clair.
Despite the early goal, RSL did not appear to be the better team just yet. The Loons were passing well and moving the ball at will, but they continually failed to connect that ever-so-important final pass. While the fundamentals were sound, there appeared to be some familiarity issues within MNUFC’s rotated squad.
At about the 15 minute mark, the hosts picked up the pace. Fluid passing and constant movement left MNUFC reeling as RSL began to dominate the game.
The pressure came to a head in the 23rd minute, when a fantastic passage of play from RSL saw a full-field switch turn into a flashing cross across the six-yard box. The Black and Blue were unable to deal with the threat, allowing Jefferson Savarino to put the ball in the net.
As the home side found their feet and began to play with confidence, MNUFC seemed to grow disjointed and reactive. By the end of the half, the Claret and Cobalt had 55% possession and had outshot the Loons 6-0. Going into the break, RSL was up 2-0.
The second half was significantly less notable, though it presented a few moments worth mentioning.
Minnesota United used three substitutes at the break: Tyler Miller for St. Clair, Oniel Fisher for Alan Benítez, and Robin Lod for Abu Danladi. With fresh legs on the field, MNUFC had a noticeably better start to the second 45 minutes, but the nagging issue of the final pass remained.
By the time the hour mark hit, the game slowed quite a bit. Each side seemed to accept their fate, with Minnesota United seemingly lacking the motivation that helped them earn a result at the weekend against Houston.
Though the game was certainly winding down, a final moment of excitement remained — for the home side once again. Following an MNUFC giveaway, RSL’s Andrew Brody played Anderson Julio through at midfield. Julio ran onto the pass, rounded the keeper, and sealed the game with a goal to make it 3-0.
On a night to forget, Minnesota United’s play was defined by sloppy midfield giveaways, wayward final passes and an inability to clear the ball from their own 18-yard box. When you make mistakes against a quality side, you will usually be punished. Tonight, the Loons will certainly be licking their wounds on the flight home.
Despite the loss, MNUFC remains in third place in the Western Conference on 44 points. As they round out a busy week, they will be hoping to get their mojo back at Allianz Field this weekend when they take on FC Dallas.
Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
09.03.22 | MLS Game 29
2:30 pm CT (Univision, TUDN, Twitter (English audio), Bally Sports North, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)