It was a long night spent on the back foot for Minnesota United, as it finished off a three-match road trip against Real Salt Lake. Both sides were desperate for three points following tough midweek results. Despite a spirited defensive effort, led by goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, the Loons were unable to get past RSL, falling 1-0 on a late goal.
“Disappointing with a lot of aspects of our play,” said Minnesota Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I don’t think we moved the ball well enough. I don’t think we caused enough problems in their final third. I couldn’t fault the players for what they gave us, but it wasn’t good enough for this evening.”
Much like the last few matches, Minnesota came storming out of the gate and applied a lot of pressure to the RSL goal. With defender Marc Burch and midfielder Johan Venegas out of action for tonight, other players had to step up for the Loons and create chances. Attacking players Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi made runs at goalkeeper Nick Rimando, trying to force an error like the one that happened in the reverse fixture at TCF Bank Stadium. It would be the midfielders who had the majority of chances, with both Kevin Molino and Ibson getting multiple opportunities on goal, but unable to find the mark.
However, after the opening burst of energy, the home side was able to find its way into the match. Quick passing and transition play allowed RSL to find gaps in the Loons’ defense and create chances with plenty of men forward.
Standing in their way, though, was Bobby Shuttleworth, who put on a goalkeeping clinic at Rio Tinto Stadium. Quick reactions and strong hands from the New York native kept the Loons in the match while adding to his already impressive highlight reel.
After a scoreless first half, the Loons came out fast once again in the second. After nearly finding the back of the net multiple times in the opening minutes, the Loons once again had to hold off the hosts.
It was a spirited effort from RSL, as players lunged and dove to intercept passes and keep balls in play, which led to chances on counterattacks. Minnesota struggled to get the ball out of its own side for much of the second half due this unrelenting pressure by the home side.
Once again, it was up to Shuttleworth to keep the Loons’ hopes alive. Numerous breakaways were stuffed and quick shots brushed aside in hopes of preserving a clean sheet. Frustration began to set in for RSL, who couldn’t break the Minnesota goalkeeper. A long blast from Luke Mulholland looked destined for the top corner, only to be parried aside by the Loons' goalkeeper.
Spurred on by their goalkeeper, the Loons fought tooth and nail to keep RSL off the board, despite not being able to create many chances of their own.
As the match waned and the final whistle drew near, Minnesota looked like it would escape with a point. But leading RSL goalscorer — who came on as a sub — Yura Movsisyan had other plans. A corner kick in the dying minutes fell in the Minnesota penalty area and looked to deflect off the arm of a Minnesota player. Shouts for handball caused several players to stop as the ball bounced off Shuttleworth and straight towards Movsisyan. The Armenian international did not wait for the referee to make a decision, and poked the ball over the Minnesota goalkeeper to claim the lead.
There was a late surge from Minnesota, but it was unable to level the match as it suffered a 1-0 defeat to RSL.
“I don’t think there’s a guy in [this] dressing room that would tell you that that was a good enough performance from any of us,” said Shuttleworth following the match. “It’s a terrible goal to give away for me. We weren’t good enough in possession. Not dangerous enough going to goal. I don’t think you’re going to find one guy who will tell you that’s good enough.”
The Loons have to move on quickly, as they face the Portland Timbers at home in just four days’ time.
“We have to go again,” said Heath. “That’s the nature of the game. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ll look at the video, see what was good and what wasn’t so good and try to be better again on Wednesday.”
Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers kick off from TCF Bank Stadium on Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. CT. Visit MNUFC.COM to find your seats today.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Kevin Venegas; M Sam Cronin, Ibsen, Kevin Molino, Miguel Ibarra, Abu Danladi (Rasmus Schuller 79’); F Christian Ramirez
MIN Unused Subs: GK Patrick McLain; D Jermaine Taylor; M Collen Warner, Collin Martin
Real Salt Lake Starting XI: GK Nick Rimando; D Tony Beltran, Justin Glad, Aaron Maund, Danilo Acosta (Sebastian Saucedo 79’); M Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Jefferson Savarino; F Brooks Lennon, Joao Plata (Chris Wingert 87’), Luis Silva (Yura Movsisyan 70’)
RSL Unused Subs: GK Matt Van Oekel; D David Horst; M Omar Holness, Ricardo Velazco
84’ – Movsisyan – RSL
21’ – Kallman (YC) – MIN
74’ – Beckerman (YC) – RSL
86’ – Ibson (YC) – MIN