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.
Heading into a road game against Montreal that saw Minnesota playing its third game in less than a week with a fourth only four days distant, Head Coach Adrian Heath’s hand was forced — he would have to rotate the squad. But he also had faith.
“We've got another big week coming up with an Open Cup game on Wednesday,” he said after the game. “We've got a huge game against Dallas at home next week, all teams in and around us. We felt as though we had to do it. But I said to the players before the game, I have every confidence in you that you can come and get a result.”
And that’s just what they did.
Making seven changes to the team that had downed the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 just three days earlier, Heath’s pulled out a 3-2 victory at Stade Saputo against all odds. After a flurry of action in the first 13 minutes found the Loons on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline, an Ethan Finlay penalty kick leveled the sides in first half stoppage time. Most any team would be satisfied with a draw and a point on the road in that situation.
But Mason Toye stole all the headlines as the young forward’s second goal of the night in the 47th minute gave the Loons a 3-2 lead and quieted the Montreal faithful. Taking both goals with absolute aplomb, Toye’s double sent him on a run during which he scored crucial MNUFC goals against FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers and LAFC.
“Especially Mason [Toye] that game,” remarked defender Michael Boxall later. “That’s when we saw his potential really come out and he was really on fire after that.”
The 3-2 win proved that the Loons had players willing to step up whenever their name was called, which will be a necessity when it reaches crunch time in the playoffs.
“I can name many players who stepped into the pitch,” added goalkeeper Vito Mannone. “We won games with them and the quality of a team isn’t just 11, isn’t 13, 14 on the day. It’s the full team. I’ve seen everybody really focus on the job and when we needed it the most, they were there."