There was plenty on the line for Minnesota United coming into Decision Day presented by AT&T. Sitting in fifth place and facing fourth place FC Dallas, the Loons had to come out strong and stay on the front foot against a tough Dallas team to claim all three points and stake their claim to a home game in the first round of the MLS Playoffs. Fortunately, the attack was up to the task, scoring three goals generated by the interplay between Robin Lod, Kevin Molino and Emanuel Reynoso.
Minnesota United came out with more urgency than on Wednesday against the Chicago Fire. Despite lacking a true forward with knocks to both Aaron Schoenfeld and Kei Kamara, Robin Lod put in yeoman’s work as a false 9, linking up well with his fellow midfielders in Ethan Finlay, Emanuel Reynoso and Kevin Molino. The home side swarmed the ball whenever FC Dallas got possession and quickly transitioned into attack with crisp passing, especially from Jan Gregus in the central midfield. The Loons rode their consistency on the ball to 59.6% possession in the first half overall.
Dallas were not without their threats, though, including Michael Barrios in particular down the right wing. His speed was a matchup problem for defender Bakaye Dibassy, pressed once again into service as a left back rather than a centerback. The Mali national nevertheless put on a strong show and despite some breakaways where Barrios wriggled free, he largely kept him in check.
Before long, Minnesota were consistency knocking on the door, including a free kick in the 14th minute driven by Reynoso from just outside the right edge of the box and onto goal. The ball struck the crossbar. The Loons would not have to wait long for their attacking pressure to pay dividends, though. In the 18th minute, Lod forced a turnover on the right side and got it centrally to Reynoso who found Molino cutting into the box. The Trinbagonian struck the right-footed shot past goalkeeper Phelipe Megiolaro into the bottom corner to put the home side on top 1-0.
but what I do have are a very particular set of skills.— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 9, 2020
skills I have acquired over a very long career.
skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. pic.twitter.com/X9C6lGR7dq
Minnesota’s lift was quickly cut short, though, when Barrios got out way ahead of the pack in the 21st minute and faced down goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair one on one. St. Clair closed down the angle before Barrios released the shot and the keeper got a hand on it, tipping it high into the air. Defender Brent Kallman tracked back and headed the ball away at the very edge of the goalline.
NO GOAL pic.twitter.com/t4VNnM3IaK— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 9, 2020
Danger averted, MNUFC got back to putting pressure on Dallas’ defense, racking up six corners by the half-hour mark of the first half. Over the final 15 minutes of the half, Dallas managed to build up some pressure on Minnesota’s backline, getting the ball into dangerous spots and earning some corner kicks of their own. Heading into the half, Minnesota likely looked the team deserving of a one goal lead, but only just.
Before the whistle to start the second half had stopped echoing around Allianz Field, the Loons were on the board again. Another Dallas turnover in the 47th minute led to Lod pinging the ball behind a Dallas backline that had dropped to defend. Reynoso drove it home for his first goal as a member of MNUFC to double the lead to 2-0.
Everybody Loves Reynoso pic.twitter.com/oKhg4VlB48— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 9, 2020
Clearly looking to change things up, Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez went to his bench early, bringing on the speedy Fafa Picault and forward Franco Jara to provide more offensive heft. Although it gave the visitors a bit of a different look and helped keep Metanire pinned farther back, it also seemed to up the choppiness of an already fraught game. In the 67th minute, Gregus got hold of the ball near the top of the box and slapped a shot that went wide but also went to ground. Midfielder Thiago Santos stepped on his head, drawing blood but no card. Once Gregus’ head was bandaged, play resumed.
The Toros kept knocking, but in the 79th minute, MNUFC put the game away for good. Showing off yet another example of confident offensive interplay. Gregus sent the ball wide to the right side from the middle of the park for Lod. Lod sprinted forward, looking to get the ball on his favored left foot on the inside of the park. But at the last second he cut it right and got past his man, centering it to Reynoso who tapped it one-time off to Molino. Molino fired it into the lower right corner to complete his brace and make it 3-0 for the home side. Lod — with a hand in all three goals on the evening — completed the gentleman’s hat trick.
┳┻|— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 9, 2020
┻┳| •.•) Hot Boy Brace
Down the stretch, new addition Foster Langsdorf came in to spell Molino in the 81st minute for his MLS debut, and defender Noah Billingsley also made his MLS debut, coming on for Metanire in the 85th minute. While Dallas managed a few more opportunities, they couldn’t find a consolation goal and the game — and the season — ended with MNUFC taking fourth place in the Western Conference and earning a home game in the first round of the playoffs against the Colorado Rapids.
ADRIAN HEATH ON FINISHING 4TH FOR THE 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR
“More satisfaction this year because of what we’ve been through. I know I’ve mentioned it, but, trust me guys, this has been the most stressful sort of five or six months that I’ve ever had in football. And I’m really pleased with the players tonight. And I thought my little conversation, shall we say, at halftime on Wednesday obviously had an effect because we came out on the front foot and we played the way I know we can play. When we get the right players in the right positions and move the ball the way we can, you know with Robin [Lod], with Kev [Molino], Ethan [Finlay] was there today, then Rey [Emanuel Reynoso], we’re very, very difficult to play against. Obviously, pleased for everybody. Pleased for all the staff. Pleased for all the supporters. Pleased for the ownership group. Because I think we’ve proved an awful lot of people wrong this year with the amount of adversity that we’ve had to come through. I get a lot of pleasure from that.”
EMANUEL REYNOSO ON SCORING HIS FIRST GOAL
“Happy, I had been looking for it for a while and content because it helped us win. I’ll go home very happy with that goal. Also, the pass from [Robin] Lod was spectacular and I’m very grateful to him for that pass he gave me.”
BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH
Rey = MOTM pic.twitter.com/4cbcynAwJo— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 9, 2020
- 18’ | Lod forces a turnover on the right, gets it to Reynoso in the middle to Molino cutting into the box on the left and he scores with the right-footed shot. 1-0
- 47’ | Reynoso gets his first as a Loon after another turnover for Dallas. Lod pinged it centrally behind the defense and Reynoso was there to drive it home. 2-0
- 79’ | Beautiful. Gregus gets it out wide to Lod who takes it up the pitch. He fakes to his left and goes around the defender to the right before sending it back to Reynoso, who drop it off to Molino. Molino fires it into the lower right corner. Brace for Molino. 3-0