After forwards Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero gave Minnesota United its dream start, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth’s Man of the Match performance amid ample pressure closed out the visiting New England Revolution late as the Loons walked away with a 2-1 win Wednesday night in front of 27,544 fans at TCF Bank Stadium.
With the win, Minnesota continued its superb form at home. MNUFC has won back-to-back games, three straight within the friendly confines of TCF and grabbed nine points from the first four matches of its current crucial home stand.
“We got a lot of reward for what we put in over the last few weeks,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “It was a monumental effort against a really well organized, aggressive and athletic team. I am pleased to be sitting here with three points.”
In the lead up to Wednesday’s match, Minnesota preached the importance of starting fast at home to get into New England’s head after Saturday’s stoppage time loss and forward Christian Ramirez obliged in the fifth minute. Ramirez capitalized on a defensive error, ran onto a headed ball, caught goalkeeper Matt Warner off of his line and put just enough on the chipped effort to bounce it off of the right post. The goal granted MNUFC the quick start it sought and snapped a four-match goalless stretch for Ramirez.
Since Ramirez scored in the match’s first five minutes, fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stub for one free beer or soda at Sunday’s Surly Pre-Match Party.
“The one thing I have told (Ramirez) is all he can control is his enthusiasm, his desire and his work rate,” Heath said. “I thought he put in an incredible shift today. That’s what the team needs. I have said it a million times, I am a firm believer that in football you will always get out what you put in and he’s had a little bit of a reward today.”
After sweating out some pushback from the Revolution in the middle stages of the opening half — including a heroic defensive effort from Brent Kallman in the 19th minute to step into the six-yard box and prevent what surely would have been an equalizer — Quintero continued his blistering run of form to double the Loons’ advantage just before halftime.
On a standout individual effort in the 46th minute, Quintero picked the ball up at the top of the box, weaved through New England’s back line and, while nearly parallel to the end line, caressed a low shot into the opposite corner.
With his team-leading eighth goal, the Colombian Designated Player now boasts five goals and a pair of assists in the Loons’ last four matches.
“He is a difference maker,” Heath said. “That is what quality brings you. We’re getting better and I think the squad is better. I honestly believe that there is a determination in the group. If we can cut silly mistakes out, we are more than capable of playing against anybody in the league.”
The Revolution continued to press after halftime and cut Minnesota’s advantage in half in the 52nd minute. After Shuttleworth turned away a threatening free kick, midfielder Alexi Gomez committed a foul on New England midfielder Kelyn Row at the edge of the penalty area. Midfielder Diego Fagundez stepped up and converted the ensuing penalty kick to give his side life.
Shuttleworth saves became a recurring theme in the second half as the Revs desperately pushed to level the score. He finished the evening with six stops, including four in the closing stanza. None, though, were bigger than his turn away of midfielder Scott Caldwell in the 80th minute. Defender Claude Dielna served the ball in and Caldwell dangerously deflected it on goal from inside the six-yard box, but Shuttleworth deftly met it at the near post to help see the Loons’ lead through to the final whistle.
“Bobby has come up with a couple of huge save when we’ve needed him,” Heath said. “Once they got one, it gave them some impetus and momentum in the game. There was a lot of good stuff, defensively. We had to because we were under pressure for large periods of the game. A couple of times we rode our luck and a couple of times Bobby came up big.”
Minnesota United is back in action on Sunday, July 22 against expansion side Los Angeles Football Club. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. Pre-game coverage for the Western Conference clash begins at 5:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo; M Miguel Ibarra, Ibson, Collen Warner, Rasmus Schuller, Alexi Gomez (Maximiano 85’); F Darwin Quintero (Mason Toye 90+2’), Christian Ramirez (Eric Miller 76’)
MIN Unused Subs: GK Matt Lampson; D Wyatt Omsberg; M Collin Martin, Frantz Pangop
New England Revolution Starting XI: GK Matt Turner; D Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Brandon Bye, Gabriel Somi (Claude Dielna 67’); M Wilfried Zahibo, Scott Caldwell (Brian Wright 80’), Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez; F Teal Bunbury (Kriszitan Nemeth 69’), Juan Agudelo
NE Unused Subs: GK Brad Knighton; D Nicolas Samayoa; M Zachary Herivaux, Issac Angking
5’ – Ramirez – MIN
45+’ – Quintero – MIN
52’ – Fagundez (PK) – NE
30’ – Calvo (YC) – MIN
45’ – Warner (YC) – MIN
55’ – Anibaba (YC) – NE
55’ – Quintero (YC) – MIN
62’ – Ibarra (YC) – MIN
75’ – Rowe (YC) – NE
83’ – Agudelo (YC) – MIN
90’ – Boxall (YC) – MIN