Over the last two weeks, the Loons have been learning that there’s really no place like home. The crowds at Allianz Field have been absolutely electric, and as Minnesota opened its doors to visitors Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 7, the Loons leaned on that advantage, securing. three much-needed points with a 2-0 win.
In the 14th minute, midfielder Wil Trapp blasted a long shot that struck goalkeeper Marko Maric in the chest and bounced out. Lod pounced on the ball and buried it into the left corner for his sixth of the year and a 1-0 lead for the Loons. In the 71st minute, Reynoso sent a corner kick directly into the six-yard box, finding defender Brent Kallman for a header that went directly off the top of his head and into the far corner to make it 2-0.
“We want to pride ourselves on our ability to play strong and make Allianz Field a difficult place to come and play,” said goalkeeper Tyler Miller. “We knew going into this game that was going to be a difficult opponent with Houston — they never really quit. They never really go away. They’re still pushing down two to zero in the last minute of the game. We focused, and getting a goal in the start of the game, I think, was huge for us. And how we start the games is something that we need to focus on.”
A week later, the Loons hosted the LA Galaxy. This season’s Galaxy have performed a complete 180 and sit in third place in the Western Conference. LA was not going to make this match an easy one for the Loons and Minnesota fell 1-0 in the end.
“It doesn't change where we're at mentally, I don't think,” said Trapp. “If anything, it just shows that we need to do the little things that gave us opportunity after opportunity in this game more consistently because if we do that, the dam will break open and we'll score goals.”
In the 43rd minute, forward Dejan Joveljic found midfielder Kevin Cabral cutting behind the defense and delivered a pinpoint ball that Cabral controlled and fired past Miller for a 1-0 lead. Minnesota created opportunities, but were stymied time and again by goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, who had seven saves in the clean sheet win.
“We made a mistake for the goal, we took a backwards step rather than a forward one and it cost us dearly, but overall when I look back there were a lot of positives,” said Heath. “That’s what I’ve been speaking to the players about. Yes, it’s a disappointment, but now we have to start another one. It’s not ideal on two days preparation to go to San Jose, who get after you at home the way they play.”
With just a couple days rest, MNUFC headed to PayPal Park for the Tuesday night matchup with the Quakes. The match ended in a 1-1 draw as the 10-man San Jose Earthquakes held up against Minnesota in the battle. In the 12th minute, Cristian Espinoza tried to slot the ball towards the middle, where it deflected off Bakaye Dibassy and gave San Jose the 1-0 lead. In the 21st minute, Earthquakes defender Nathan received a red card. One minute later, Adrien Honou found Wil Trapp near the top of the box and Trapp fired the ball into the lower left corner, tying up the match. Despite the advantage, Minnesota couldn’t find the back of the net to take the lead and instead left California with a point.
Now they return once again to Allianz Field to face a Sporting Kansas City team that’s been rounding into form and haven’t lost since the end of July. With a still-sizable injury list, the Loons will be banking on that home cooking to help them carry the day.
“They’re a dangerous team,” said Miller. “There’s a reason that Peter Vermes has done so well with that team and everyone buys into what they’re doing. We know they’re very detailed oriented. They’re dangerous in the attack. They have a solid defense and Tim Melia is a solid goalkeeper as well. It’s going to be a difficult task for us on Saturday but it’s a game that we see as an opportunity to gain some points and momentum on them and the teams at the top. Going into the rest of the season, we have, I think, 10 or 11 games against the top four teams in our conference so there’s an opportunity for us to really gain momentum and catch up to the [teams] that are at the top of Western Conference.”