On a rainy night in Saint Paul, Minnesota United squared off against visiting Real Salt Lake, intent on making the most of what amounts to a homestead of two back-to-back games in the continuing oddness of this season. Despite dominating possession for the entire game and ending up with more of the shots on goal and on target after the Loons began turning possession into opportunities in the second half, MNUFC were unable to find the back of the net in this one. The Loons would take the point, moving up in the Western Conference to sixth and looking ahead to another game at Allianz Field against FC Cincinnati next Saturday.
The game opened with the home side on the front foot. Minnesota’s first shot came in the third minute, when midfielder Robin Lod laid the ball off to defender Romain Metanire, who fired in a right-footed shot that RSL goalkeeper Andrew Putna deflected, keeping it in. Throughout the first half, the Loons pressed the issue, keeping the majority of possession and not giving the Claret-and-Cobalt much of an opportunity to play with the ball at their feet.
Much of the game was played in Real Salt Lake’s half, but the visitors also racked up more shots than the home team, putting up three shots to Minnesota’s one in the first 30 minutes. It was a symptom of a Minnesota side that was aggressive defensively and did good work moving the ball through the midfield, but couldn’t connect on the final ball. Chalk it up to the still-growing chemistry between forward Kei Kamara, midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and the rest of the team, or chalk it up yet again to a tremendously strange season, but a lack of timely connection was much in evidence.
Reynoso, for his part, kept his work rate up all over the field, making himself indispensable all over the field, both in attack and defensively, where he didn’t shy away from challenging his opposite numbers and winning the ball back. His comfort level within the game has certainly grown since his arrival and tonight’s performance augurs good things for the Argentine.
By the end of the first half, MNUFC were without a corner kick and their handful of free kicks had not threatened the goal. Without set pieces or an effective counterattack — which they couldn’t spring with so much of the ball — the Loons simply lacked for edge and bite for the first 45 as the teams headed into the tunnel deadlocked and scoreless.
The second half began much more promisingly as the game loosened up considerably right from the get-go. In the 50th minute, a savvy headed pass from the right wing by Metanire put the ball directly into the path of Reynoso, who slipped it around a defender before slotting a shot that Putna turned away. The midfielder would get an even better effort off on goal five minutes later, but would also be denied from short range.
For their part, Real Salt Lake took advantage of Minnesota’s forward energy to put more of theirs into countering. The result was a wealth of chances for RSL but little actual finishing for the visitors.
One of Minnesota’s best opportunities came in the 58th minute when Kamara settled a long pass from midfielder Jan Gregus and sent it across the box to Lod, who took the ball onto his favored left foot and aimed a shot for the far post. Unfortunately, his effort went just wide.
Chance after chance seemed to come Minnesota’s way, with the home side being denied time again by luck or errant feet, including a tantalizing opportunity to snatch a full three points late as defender Bakaye Dibassy’s 87th minute header off a corner kick from the right side bounced into the ground and hit the far post before bouncing harmlessly out of bounds.
With just three minutes of stoppage time, MNUFC didn’t have much time to make something of the scoreless draw, including a terrific effort by late sub Marlon Hairston to get up and get a head on a long cross that resulted in a collision with an RSL defender that left them both on the ground. Hairston would shake it off and return to the fray, but by that point, it was all over but the shouting. The ref blew the whistle and the teams split the points, RSL likely happy with a road point and MNUFC disappointed not to have come away with more from a game they largely dominated.
ADRIAN HEATH ON THE OVERALL PERFORMANCE
"I thought the first half, in the middle of the field, we were very good. Not enough threat in the final third. I thought we rectified that. We tweaked the shape a wee bit at halftime and I would settle for a game like that every week where we get, you know, not many opportunities conceded, but, how many did we have? I could think of maybe five really, really good opportunities. So, a lot of positives there. Disappointment, obviously, I thought we did more than enough to win the game. And, if we play like that and create them chances, invariably, we will win the games.""
JACORI HAYES ON WHETHER IT'S A POINT EARNED OR TWO DROPPED
"It’s difficult to say, we have high expectations, especially at home. Even though there are no fans we want to keep that same atmosphere and keep it a fortress, so we always come in to these games expecting three points. So we are little disappointed, but it’s still a point and everything is super tight in the West and we will take points where we can get them and hopefully we can build on this and get the win next weekend."
BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH
The boys for this evening.— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) September 27, 2020
MINNESOTA UNITED vs. FC CINCINNATI
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
10.03.2020 | MLS Week No. 14 | MLS Game No. 15
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)