After falling behind by three in the second half, goals from midfielder Ibson and forward Abu Danladi gave Minnesota United hope late, but the spirited comeback effort came up short in a 4-2 road loss to an Alphonso Davies-led Vancouver Whitecaps side on Saturday.
Despite the two-goal setback, Head Coach Adrian Heath said he believed MNUFC was the better team in the run of play between the goals, but mistakes and lapses in judgment again cost the Loons on the road.
“Our football was good,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “Our defending was poor, our concentration levels were poor and our discipline was poor. If we keep conceding the goals that we do we are never going to give ourselves a chance to win games on the road. It is as simple as that. We aren’t winning too many on the road conceding four, that is one thing I do know.”
Minnesota’s 3-5-2 functioned more like a 5-3-2 in the game’s opening minutes with midfielders Miguel Ibarra and Eric Miller pinned back in the defensive end as the Loons ceded possession early. The defensive shape held firm, though, and MNUFC allowed only four shots and a single chance on target in the first half.
Making his first start since June 3, Miller was charged with shadowing Vancouver’s Davies. Davies started on the left side, but switched to the right midway through the half and Miller followed. That move pushed Ibarra to the left and seemed to give MNUFC the impetus it needed to go forward, leading to Minnesota’s best chance of the first half. After starting the play in midfield in the 24th minute with a ball in over the top to midfielder Ibson, forward Darwin Quintero ran into the box and nearly opened the scoring with a point-blank header from the penalty spot.
But it was the Whitecaps and forward Yordy Reyna who made their lone on-target chance of the half count. Reyna created the game’s first goal in the 35th minute seemingly out of nothing. He picked up the ball at the top of the box, weaved around Minnesota’s defense and, while falling away, picked out the far corner of the net.
“It is one of the oldest sayings in football, you have to score when you’re on top and having your moments on the road,” Heath said. “Goals change games. I thought we were sitting comfortably and then next minute Reyna gets a goal from nothing, really, and then you’re always chasing it a little bit. We keep making the same mistakes and we can’t keep doing it.”
Emboldened by Reyna’s strike, the Whitecaps capitalized on a pair of MNUFC turnovers and exploded for two more goals early in the second half. In the 56th minute, Ibson’s attempted backheel pass instead rolled into Davies’ path and Davies danced through the Loons’ backline to double Vancouver’s lead. The midfield starlet then combined with forward Kei Kamara on a counterattack in the 58th minute after a turnover in midfield to make it three.
Trailing 3-0, Minnesota showed its character and did its best to change the plot in the closing moments, but it proved to be too little, too late.
After close calls for Quintero and Ibarra in the 69th and 81st minutes, respectively, the Loons finally broke through for a pair of Quintero-assisted goals in the 82nd and 86th minutes to draw within one, 3-2, and briefly make things interesting. Ibson opened Minnesota’s account with a glancing header off of a corner kick and — making his first appearance in almost two months — Danladi followed that up with a second just moments later. The goal was Danladi’s first goal of the season and was well set-up by both Quintero and midfielder Romario Ibarra. On the play, Quintero played it in to Romario, who nicely held the ball up in the box before playing it back to Quintero. Quintero then dished across the box to a streaking Danladi for the goal.
But just as soon as Ibson and Danladi opened the door for the Loons, Davies slammed it shut in the 89th minute with his second goal of the night.
“In terms of our possession of the ball and trying to do what we have been asking of them, I was quite pleased with some of it,” Heath said. “If you look at this game, there has been nothing in it apart from a couple moments from Alphonso Davies that changed the course of the game.”
Before embarking on a five-game road swing, Minnesota United returns to the friendly confines of TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. CT against Seattle Sounders FC. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North Plus, 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, Rasmus Schuller, Collen Warner (Collin Martin 82’), Ibson, Eric Miller (Romario Ibarra 67’); F Darwin Quintero, Christian Ramirez (Abu Danladi 68’)
MIN Unused Subs: GK Matt Lampson; D Wyatt Omsberg; M Alexi Gomez, Maximiano
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Starting XI: GK Stefan Marinovic; D Jakob Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Marcel de Jong; M Cristian Techera (Brek Shea 77’), Aly Ghazal (Felipe 45+2’), Russell Teibert, Alphonso Davies; F Yordy Reyna, Anthony Blondell (Kei Kamara 63’)
VAN Unused Subs: GK Brian Rowe; D Sean Franklin, Jose Aja; M Nicolas Mezquida
35’ – Reyna (Davies) – VAN
56’ – Davies (Blondell) – VAN
64’ – Kamara (Davies, Reyna) – VAN
82’ – Ibson (Quintero) – MIN
87’ – Danladi (Quintero, Ibarra) – MIN
89’ – Davies (Reyna) – VAN
39’ – Boxall (YC) – MIN
50’ – Miller (YC) – MIN
72’ – Waston (YC) – VAN