On a thundery, rainy night in Frisco, MNUFC came into Texas looking to get a result against an FC Dallas team that’s been atop the Western Conference for much of the season and without key players including Darwin Quintero, Francisco Calvo and Collen Warner. Although they looked game early on, the Loons conceded a tough goal at the very end of the first half and were never able to put together enough possession to become threatening in the second, eventually falling to the home side 2-0.
With the game kicking off over two and a half hours after when it was scheduled and beginning in a light rain, both teams came out a bit hesitant. Counterattacks fizzled quickly for both Dallas and Minnesota as players who only got a short warm-up struggled a bit to work their way into the game. As the teams exchanged possessions, the Loons in the early going showed a good bit of defensive resolve despite the switch back to the four-man backline. Dallas struggled to get much more than possession in the visitors’ final third and couldn’t seem to put together any quality chances.
"It’s not ideal, it’s not ideal for them as well," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "The fact that they’re at home, it’s probably a bit more comfortable for them — they’ve got everything they need. But I wouldn’t use that as an excuse."
Midfielder Frantz Pangop, starting in his first MLS game out wide on the left side in the 4-3-3, showed some early flashes on the offensive side. In the 12th minute he stormed down the left side, cut inside and unleashed a shot that went high. In the 20th minute, though, we also saw Pangop lose Reggie Cannon down the right wing as defender Eric Miller stepped out to mark forward Maximiliano Urruti, giving up an opportunity for Dallas that goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth turned deftly away.
MNUFC earned its first corner kicks of the evening in the 24th and 26th minute as their persistence in Dallas’ half began to bear fruit. Neither came to anything however, and those two opportunities were followed by a shift in offensive momentum towards the home side as Dallas began to focus its efforts down the right side.
As the first half wound down, Dallas’ began to crack the game open a bit on the back of midfielder Pablo Aranguiz, signed by the club in July. Aranguiz kept up the pressure down the spine, challenging Shuttleworth several times with direct shots or dangerous passes. Ultimately, though, it was an odd play at the death that put Dallas on top 1-0 when a short corner kick was whipped in. Initially, it appeared that Shuttleworth had made a dynamite short-range save that bounced out to an offside Maynor Figueroa who tapped it in. Upon video review, though, the referees determined that the initial shot had come off defender Michael Boxall’s head, negating Figueroa’s offside position. The teams headed into the locker rooms with Dallas up 1-0.
"The kid’s obviously offside," said Heath. "And then it seems like they’re trying to come up with a reason to give it. I thought it’s supposed to be clear and obvious. It certainly wasn’t clear and obvious to me."
It didn’t take long in the second half to begin to see Minnesota United’s energy flagging. On a good day, Toyota Stadium is a difficult place to eke out points — FC Dallas is 7-1-4 on the season. But on a night when kick off was delayed so long and missing Quintero, it was clear that MNUFC simply couldn’t put together enough connections on the offensive end to take anything from the game.
In the 57th minute, after MNUFC seemed to be starting to put together some decent strings of possession, forward Michael Barrios fired a long shot from the edge of the box on the left side to double FC Dallas’ lead. For the remainder of the game, it was all Minnesota could do to hang onto possession in their own half, much less build anything going forward. In the end, MNUFC would fall 2-0 in Dallas.
"The unfortunate thing at this moment in time," said Heath, "we had no Calvo, we had no Quintero, no Molino, no Ethan Finlay, no Sam Cronin. We aren’t strong enough and deep enough to cope with five of our best players not being on the field and that’s the harsh reality. It’s another reminder that we have to get better. We’re not where we need to be or where we want to be at this moment. "
Minnesota United’s next game is on Saturday, August 25 against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. with pre-game coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports North+, Fox Sports GO and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Tyrone Mears, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Eric Miller; M Ibson, Rasmus Schuller (Mason Toye 76’), Collin Martin; F Frantz Pangop (Romario Ibarra 65’), Miguel Ibarra, Angelo Rodriguez
MIN Unused Subs: GK Matt Lampson; D Wyatt Omsberg; M Alexi Gomez, Harrison Heath; F Abu Danladi
FC Dallas Starting XI: GK Jimmy Maurer; D Marquinhos Pedroso, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa, Reggie Cannon; M Carlos Gruezo, Maximiliano Urruti (Paxton Pomykal 90+‘), Michael Barrios, Pablo Aranguiz (Roland Lamah 76’), Victor Ulloa; F Dominique Badji (Santiago Mosquera 58’)
FCD Unused Subs: GK Kyle Zobeck; D Moises Hernandez, Ryan Hollingshead; M Jacori Hayes
44’ – Figueroa – FCD
57’ – Barrios (Gruezo) – FCD
27’ – Martin (YC) – MIN
29’ – Ibson (YC) – MIN
50’ – Gruezo (YC) – MIN
51’ – Hedges (YC) – MIN