On a chilly October afternoon, Minnesota United faced the visiting Colorado Rapids at TCF Bank Stadium in a game where both teams struggled with continuity. Four goals were scored total, but only two of them ended up counting after video review called back both MNUFC goals for offside. In the end, the Rapids came out on top 2-0.
“We started quite well, and we had two great chances, two glorious opportunities from Ángelo [Rodríguez] and Darwin [Quintero],” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “And, I’ve said it a million times, goals change games. At this moment in time, with the way that we’re playing, we need to take them opportunities when they come, to give the team confidence to move on from there. But we didn’t, and I said at halftime that I thought the first goal was going to be crucial today, and they got that opportunity, and took it.”
In an echo of the game against Philadelphia last week, the Loons began brightly, with forward Angelo Rodriguez picking off an errant pass in Colorado’s half but sending his chip over goalkeeper Tim Howard wide right in the third minute. Overall, the first five or so minutes saw MNUFC comfortably possessing the ball and keeping Colorado from putting any kind of flow together.
Once Colorado got their chance, though, the Rapids managed to get some heavy pressure on goalkeeper Matt Lampson, including a span of ten seconds in the eighth minute that saw no fewer than six shots on goal turned away by Lampson and defenders Marc Burch and Eric Miller before the ball was finally sent over the goalline by a Rapids player.
In the 15th minute, midfielder Darwin Quintero missed a golden opportunity to put the home side in front after a cross from Miller on the right wing narrowly missed Quintero’s head. It was part of a pattern that persisted in the first half where the Loons would get a decent look but not quite click on the passes or shots required to finish.
In the 19th minute, video review made its first appearance of the afternoon when play stopped to review Marlon Hairston’s takedown of Alexi Gomez. Hairston would eventually be awarded a yellow, but not before several minutes had passed. As the first half wore on, Minnesota’s energy seemed to flag as frustration got the better of them. In the 40th minute, an excellent run by Quintero through several Rapids defenders would ultimately go nowhere when he got too deep in the box and ended up sending in a cross on the ground that Howard easily swallowed up. The teams headed into the tunnel deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half began much the same as the first half ended, but in the 51st minute, it looked like it would be Quintero who would finally inject some life into it. Rodriguez corralled a long ball in and sprayed it out wide to Miguel Ibarra on the right wing, who fired a pinpoint pass in for Quintero. The diminutive attacker was kept onside by Hairston drifting into the box and looked like the Loons would take a 1-0 lead. Video review had something to say about that, though, and after another several minutes of review, the goal was called back because of Rodriguez being offside on the initial pass.
“It is supposed to be expedited,” said goalkeeper Matt Lampson. “The way that they presented it to us was that it should be seamless and quick. All three of them took very, very long. It ruins the flow of the game, for sure, especially when you have momentum on your side. It absolutely destroys the momentum of the game.”
Momentum thoroughly broken up, Colorado nudged themselves in front minutes later when Hairston sent a lobbed ball forward and onto the head of a streaking Yannick Boli, who struck a pretty header into the upper right corner of the goal despite defender Michael Boxall being on his back.
It would be another thirty minutes before the Loons could muster a response to the Rapids’ 1-0 lead, but in stoppage time, a chaotic scramble in front of Colorado’s goal would find the ball at midfielder Ibson’s left foot. After sinking the goal to draw the teams level, video review came in and after several minutes the decision was made that Rodriguez was once again offside on the initial pass in the attack, so the goal was once again called back.
In the game’s dying moments, Colorado pounced on a loose ball in Minnesota’s half that Lampson had come out to get, sending a high ball in for a 2-0 lead. Colorado defender Tommy Smith came over to the Minnesota bench to preen following the goal, leading to a minor donnybrook that took several minutes to sort out and resulted in the ejections of Smith and Harrison Heath from the bench, plus goalkeeping coach John Pascarella. With order restored, the game was restarted in the 104th minute for one last kick around before the ref blew the whistle.
“There wasn’t much of a flow of the game,” said Heath. “That was probably one of the reasons that we had the incident at the end of the game that we did. Knowing the rules of the game is different than knowing the game. I just felt the referee today didn’t help the situation with the continually blowing up, people going down, blowing when it’s not head injury. That frustrated everybody, and I think that led to a lot of the unnecessary ending to the game.”
Minnesota United plays its final home game of the season next Saturday, October 21 against the Los Angeles Galaxy. MNUFC is expecting a record crowd of 50,000-plus for the game, which kicks off at 4:00 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN, streaming on WatchESPN and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Matt Lampson; D Eric Miller, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Marc Burch; M Maximiano (Mason Toye 90+5’), Fernando Bob, Miguel Ibarra (Frantz Pangop 62’), Alexi Gomez (Ibson 72’), Darwin Quintero; F Angelo Rodriguez
MIN Unused Subs: GK Alex Kapp; D Wyatt Omsberg; M Collen Warner, Harrison Heath
Colorado Rapids Starting XI: GK Tim Howard; D Marlon Hairston, Axel Sjoberg, Tommy Smith, Edgar Castillo (Decklan Wynne 46’); M Bismark Boateng, Jack Price, Cole Bassett, Dillon Serna; F Shkelzen Gashi (Giles Barnes 87’), Yannick Boli (Niki Johnson 78’)
COL Unused Subs: GK Zac MacMath; M Johan Blomberg, Enzo Martinez, Sam Hamilton
61’ – Boli (Hairston) – COL
90+7’ – Jackson – COL
22’ – Hairston (YC) – COL
28’ – Miller (YC) – MIN
73’ – Maximiano (YC) – MIN
90+14’ – Heath (RC) – MIN
90+14’ – Smith (RC) – COL