As we prepare for Minnesota United’s first-ever home playoff game on Sunday, October 20 against the LA Galaxy, we’re taking an opportunity to look back at 10 of our favorite moments from what was a historic, dramatic and action-packed 2019 regular season.
Early in the season, Minnesota United went on the road to face the San Jose Earthquakes and got a 3-0 result and the first of many clean sheets for goalkeeper Vito Mannone. While San Jose had bedeviled the Loons in their MLS history by winning every game heading into 2019, the win for the visitors was not that surprising in the moment — the Quakes started the season horrendously with four straight losses.
But by the time San Jose came to Allianz Field on Wednesday, July 3, the Quakes had turned things around and wowed the league with their commitment to Head Coach Matias Almeyda’s aggressive man-marking scheme. “If they can continue to develop their unusual style,” said MLS’s Power Rankings, “they can be nearly uncrackable even with plenty of game tape on them.”
With pinpoint, bang-bang passing, the Loons sliced up San Jose’s defense and got Darwin Quintero in on goal in the sixth minute to put them on top. Although San Jose would answer, a marauding — and unexpected run — from defender Michael Boxall put him in a position to drill a deflected pass home to make it 2-1.
But the Loons weren’t done. Not content to hang on for the narrowest of wins, Minnesota kept at it well past the end of regulation. In the 92nd minute, Mason Toye slid in to take the ball off Jackson Yueill and over to Ike Opara. Opara picked his head up and saw Kevin Molino running into space on the far side of the pitch, then nailed the pass along the ground straight to his feet. Molino didn’t waste a touch, instead curling it deftly around a diving Daniel Vega to cement the win.
It was the epitome of a solid win against a team threatening the Loons in the Western Conference Standings and for those paying attention, a sign that the Quakes were in fact crackable with the right blend of tactics, grit and finishing.