Minnesota United traveled east to match up against its USL affiliate Forward Madison Tuesday night, defeating the Flamingos 2-1 in front of a record sellout crowd of 4,821 at Breese Stevens Field. The evening offered an opportunity for some of the younger players, and players that haven't been getting many minutes on a game-to-game basis to get competitive time on the pitch. Mason Toye stood out for the Loons, netting a brace, with assists going to Eric Miller and Collin Martin, while Danny Tenorio found the back of the net unassisted for Forward Madison.
"We really enjoyed the evening and our trip here," said Minnesota United Assistant Coach Mark Watson. "You know us having an affiliation with the club, to come here and spend some time in the city and see the stadium and what they've got going on here is incredible. They're just half way through year one and it's pretty impressive what they've built so it was nice to see that and be a part of that."
Minnesota United absorbed pressure through the opening ten minutes of play, unable to break down the Forward Madison midfield, but also not allowing the Flamingos to make any sort of progress going forward, other than an early chance by Madison's Paulo Junior which was handled comfortably by young goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.
Much of the Loons offense was generated through the counter, tallying their first shot of the game in the ninth minute as Eric Miller broke down the ride side of the pitch and connected with Mason Toye on the cross. Toye elevated well to make contact, but caught the ball on his rise and pushed it wide of the net.
The duo connected once more as momentum began to swing. In the 24th minute a Miller ball into the box found Toye who knocked it home from close range giving Minnesota United the early lead. Both teams continued to press in search of the game's second goal, but the center official blew for half with the Loons edging out Madison 1-0 through 45 minutes.
"[Mason Toye] is a young guy with a bright future, so we've been working a lot, Daryl [Shore] and his staff have been working a lot here and he did a lot of good things over the course of 90 minutes, but strikers are usually judged on goals," said Watson. "He scored a great goal in our Open Cup win in Houston and he had a couple of good goals tonight, so we're seeing a lot of positive things from Mason and the end product is coming, he's got three goals in the last two games which is great for a striker."
Forward Madison started the second half with the same energy as the first, again striking an early effort at St. Clair, who held the shot on his chest. The Loons pressed back quickly, with defender Brent Kallman making his way high up the pitch to put a shot on frame – with plenty of power, but not far enough away from Forward Madison substitute goalkeeper Brandon Barnes to reach the back of the net.
Kallman got another opportunity just a few minutes later from a Minnesota United corner that was played short. After a couple of quick passes between Rasmus Schuller and Collin Martin, the ball was played low into the box toward Kallman, who knocked it toward net, but was cut off by the Forward Madison defensive line.
In the 57th minute, Minnesota United was undone by a back pass that was mishandled by St. Clair near his own goal. The ball hopped up off the turf over St. Clair's boot and into the path of Forward Madison striker Danny Tenorio who slotted it away calmly to even things up.
The Loons looked to freshen things up, with Miguel Ibarra and Hassani Dotson checking into the game and pressing hard up the wings. Ibarra opened up some space in the 70th minute with a sweet touch over the head of two Forward Madison defenders toward the top of the box. He hit a half volley at full stride, just high of the net as the Loons continued to push to retake the lead.
In the end the pressure paid off, as Toye secured his brace in the 80th minute to break the deadlock. Midfielder Collin Martin controlled the ball in the midfield with enough time to pick out a pass and played a gorgeous ball over the top to Toye in stride. Toye took a touch to settle it down and knocked it low to Barnes' right and into the net, securing the win for Minnesota United.
"For our group we always say that everyone's got something to play for; it was fitness for some guys, having the opportunity to prove that they should be playing more," said Watson. "There's lots of objective in the game so I thought our guys put on a good professional performance, they did their work."
The Loons return to MLS action against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, June 29 at 3:00 p.m. CT at Allianz Field. Pregame coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Carter Manley, Eric Miller, Brent Kallman (Dotson 61'), Wyatt Omsberg, Chase Gasper (Ibarra 61'); M Lawrence Olum, Collin Martin, Rasmus Schuller; F Mason Toye (Ng'Anzi 26'), Abu Danladi
MIN Unused Subs: GK Bobby Shuttleworth
Forward Madison FC Starting XI: GK Ryan Coulter (Barnes HT); D Carl Schneider (Morris HT), Shaun Russell (Josiah HT), Eric Leonard (Klancnik HT), Christian Diaz (Markanich 30'); M Vital Nizigiyimana (Kidd HT), Josiel Nunez (Welch HT), Brandon Eaton (Pill HT); F Jiro Barriga Toyama (Bartley HT), Paulo Junior (Kigeya HT), Danny Tenorio (Markanich 61')
MAD Unused Subs: None
23’ – Toye (Miller) – MIN
57’ – Tenorio – MAD
80’ – Toye (Martin) – MIN
35’ – Kallman (YC) – MIN