In the team’s much-delayed home opener at Allianz Field, Minnesota United faced their old frenemies Sporting Kansas City — the team they defeated in dramatic fashion to start the MLS Is Back Tournament in July. The game would end with the same 2-1 scoreline as that one, but with the Loons on the wrong side of the result. With two own goals and a third that appeared at least partly accidental, the game might not have been pretty, but it was a return to play in the Loons’ home stadium and a first step back to regular season play.
The game began brightly for the home side, with MNUFC applying attacking pressure right from the opening whistle and earning its first corner kick just three minutes in. The Loons forced the issue largely down the right side, looking for the combo of returning fullback Romain Metanire and winger Ethan Finlay that was so often potent down in Orlando. But Sporting absorbed the pressure and began to wrench it in the other direction after the first 10 minutes, at which point the Loons began to struggle to get out of their own end.
In the 12th minute, midfielder Gadi Kinda found himself with a good amount of space on the left wing, giving him time to pick out the onrushing Roger Espinoza as the midfielder dove into the box. Kinda put a beautiful ball into the space in front of Espinoza and the ball bounced up and past goalkeeper Gregory Ranjitsingh — starting in place of Tyler Miller — to give the visitors a one goal lead.
The home side refocused following the goal and Ranjitsingh settled in, putting in a number of solid saves over the rest of the evening. As the game creeped towards the half-hour mark, it was Minnesota’s turn to wrest control of the momentum as the Loons began to make inroads into the final third, including a near-banger from midfielder Hassani Dotson off the volley in the 26th minute after Chase Gasper’s cross was cleared.
we'll call it a happy little accident... pic.twitter.com/idZUVdWxPq— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 22, 2020
Midfielder Kevin Molino — who had not seen much of the ball after the game’s first 10 minutes — provided the spark in the 32nd minute. Playing on the left wing, the midfielder received the ball and drifted across the top of the box before picking out Finlay on the opposite wing. Finlay attempted to rip a low cross on the ground to forward Luis Amarilla, but defender Jaylin Lindsey got a foot in and sent the ball into the back of SKC’s net to level the score at 1-1, which was how the teams would go into the locker rooms.
Although MNUFC began the second half on the front foot, it was once again Sporting Kansas City who would put their mark on the game about 10 minutes after the whistle. In the 55th minute, a timely interception in midfield by the visitors led to a breakout led by Kinda. After he drew the defense in, the midfielder dumped the ball off to Russell on the left wing and the Scotsman toed the touchline before drilling a short cross that beat a diving Ranjitsingh, unfortunately landing at the feet of a diving Michael Boxall, who sent the ball into the net to put Sporting KC on top once again.
Down the stretch, MNUFC looked the team most likely as SKC shifted to a more defensive look and the home side brought on both Aaron Schoenfeld and Mason Toye as forwards to give the teeth plenty of attack. But despite many tantalizing opportunities, Minnesota couldn’t quite put it together in the final third. Perhaps showing just a little looseness from the layoff following the MLS Is Back Tournament, many passes were just a little behind or a little late and some sterling opportunities went begging.
In the end, the result kept Sporting KC on top of the Western Conference and gave Minnesota United its first regular season loss of the 2020 season.
your nightly reminder that Chase is SOOOO saucy with the ball pic.twitter.com/JcBovinbQ3— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 22, 2020
ADRIAN HEATH ON PLAYING WITHOUT FANS
"We know what type of atmosphere we generate here. Certainly, as the game was wearing on and we were getting free kicks and corners and putting the ball in the box, that certainly would have made a huge influence and difference for us. But, hey, I’ll never use the fact that there’s no fans here as an excuse. I don’t think we did enough tonight. I thought after the first 20 minutes of the first half we got about it a little bit more and started to play on the front foot a little bit more, and we looked like we might score goals. Before that, we didn’t look like that. I thought we paid them too much respect at the beginning of the game and allowed them to get some confidence in the fact that they’re playing away from home. We knew it was going to be tight. I don’t think there was really anything in the game. But, when I look at the amount of balls we put in the box and to know we put in the box and to not really make [Tim] Melia make a big time save was a bit disappointing.
CHASE GASPER ON THE PERFORMANCE OVERALL
"The team is definitely disappointed. To come back home and play at Allianz [Field] for the first time this year, we were really looking forward to the game, but, unfortunately the game just didn’t go our way. We started off a little too flat on the back foot. When you concede two weak goals like that, it’s tough to win games. So, unfortunately it wasn’t our night. We gotta congratulate SKC. I thought they did a great job moving the ball and the holdup play was really good on their end and that caused us some problems. We’re just gonna learn from tonight, work on it this week and get ready for our next game."
BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH
Hassani. Dotson. MOTM. pic.twitter.com/8i9sfWdium— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 22, 2020
- 12’ | Gadi Kinda launches a beauty of a ball from the left wing into the box for an onrushing Roger Espinoza and the ball gets past Ranjitsingh. 0-1
- 32’ | Kevin Molino drifts with the ball along the top of the box and picks out Finlay in space on the right wing. Finlay slots a low pass through to Amarilla and the ball deflects off Jaylin Lindsey and past Melia. 1-1
- 55’ | Timely interception by SKC in the midfield leads to a breakout the other way led by Kinda. Kinda draws the defense and dumps it off to Russell who toes the line and sends a ball past Ranjitsingh that bounces off Boxall and into the net. 1-2
Match night in Minnesota and what a big one it is with the top two teams in the Western Conference!— Sporting Matchday (@SKCmatchday) August 21, 2020
One hour to kick off between @SportingKC & @MNUFC.
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THE boys this evening*— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 21, 2020
*Yes, we will post a formation graphic closer to kick
MINNESOTA UNITED vs. FC DALLAS
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas
08.29.2020 | MLS Week No. 7 | MLS Game No. 7
7:30 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North+, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)