Goals from Darwin Quintero and Ibson lead Minnesota United (3-5-0, 9 points) to a 2-1 win over the visiting Houston Dynamo (2-3-2, 8 points), taking three points in its first match of a six-match stretch in which MNUFC plays five matches at home.
“Hopefully it gives us something to build on,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Sometimes you get your rewards at different times. I honestly thought we got a little bit of a reward for some of our play in the last few weeks. It showed great character, teamwork and belief from the guys to dig themselves out of the hole.”
The Loons had to dig themselves out of a less than auspicious start, after Houston’s Alberth Elis opened the scoring in the 10th minute – finding space behind the defense to receive and tap home a low cross from Romell Quioto. MNUFC’s troubles were further compounded in the 30th minute when Christian Ramirez was subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury.
“We’ll know more tomorrow when it settles down a little bit,” Heath said. “Hamstrings are never good for anybody. So we’ll see.”
Ramirez had been the Loons most dangerous player to that point, creating a pair of close calls in the 20th and 26th minutes with a header from a corner and a long-range chip from just inside midfield that nearly found the top right corner.
With yet another of the team’s primary attacking threats sidelined, Darwin Quintero stepped up to fill the void. Quintero showed his ability to create as he leveled the score at one in the 40th minute. Quintero dished to Ibarra, made a run into the box, received the ball back from Ibarra for a headed effort that deflected off the Dynamo defender’s arm and drew a penalty that Quintero coolly converted just inside the right post.
The goal was Quintero’s second to go along with one assist in three games since joining MNUFC from Club America.
“Darwin showed glimpses of unbelievable ability and he’ll be better for another 90 minutes under his belt,” Heath said. “You can already see that quality he’s got. As we start to learn more about him, and he learns more about us, that will certainly be a plus for us moving forward.”
Making his second-straight start, Bobby Shuttleworth turned away four Dynamo chances but no save proved bigger than his highlight reel-worthy stop in the 66th minute. Houston’s DeMarcus Beasley served in a well-placed cross for Mauro Manotas but a sprawling Shuttleworth reached back to deny his headed effort.
The save kept the match level at one and set the stage for Ibson’s heroics just minutes later.
“That was a big save,” said Heath. “You need keepers to make big saves at appropriate times. I thought it kept us in the game.”
With the score even at one, Houston applied heavy pressure and monopolized possession to start the second half, which forced Heath to change his formation to something closer to a 4-3-3—a move he credited with changing the flow of the game and allowing the free-roaming Ibson to find the space in the box he needed to slot home the match-winner.
The Brazilian deftly back-heeled Miguel Ibarra’s service into the box underneath a sprawling defender for his second goal of the campaign and Ibarra’s team-leading third assist.
“It was a great finish,” said Heath. “As soon as we changed the shape, it changed the way the game went. We started to get more and more on the ball and we started to play in their half a bit more.”
The win also marked the MNUFC debut for loanee Alexi Gomez, who came on for Ibson in the 78th minute and quickly showed promising passing chemistry with Quintero that led to a pair of chances.
Minnesota United FC returns home to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, May 5 to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 1:00 p.m. CT start. Pre-match coverage gets underway at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North or streaming on FOX Sports Go and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Carter Manley, Michael Boxall, Francisco Calvo, Jerome Thiesson; M Rasmus Schuller, Ibson (Alexi Gomez 78’), Sam Nicholson (Collin Martin, 67’), Miguel Ibarra, Darwin Quintero; F Christian Ramirez (Mason Toye 30’)
MIN Unused Subs: GK Matt Lampson; D Brent Kallman; M Harrison Heath, Frantz Pangop
Houston Dynamo Starting XI: GK Joe Willis; D Andrew Wenger, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley; M Boniek Garcia, Tomas Martinez (Mac Steeves 77’), Darwin Ceren; F Alberth Elis (Arturo Alvarez 84’), Mauro Rodriguez, Romell Quioto (Memo Rodriguez 87’)
HOU Unused Subs: GK Chris Seitz; D Adolfo Machado; M Eric Alexander, Luis Gil
10’ — Elis (Quioto, Martinez) — HOU
40’ — Quintero (PK) — MIN
70’ — Ibson (Ibarra, Martin) — MIN
39’ — Fuenmayor (YC) — HOU
55’ — Darwin Ceren (YC) — HOU
65’ — Schuller (YC) — MIN