courtesy of the NASL and Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography


Recap: Loons Drop Three Points in Late-Game Collapse

by on 24 September 2016

Minnesota United FC conceded two late goals again to the Ottawa Fury as the Loons dropped three more points. An early goal from Jamie Watson, his second in two games, was erased by three straight Fury goals. The Loons continue to struggle for form late in the Fall Season.

Coach Carl Craig was forced into some lineup changes due to a minor injury to Jeb Brovsky. In his place, Aaron Pitchkolan started in midfield with Ibson completing the double pivot. Lance Laing, Ben Speas, and Watson again formed the attacking midfield supporting Christian Ramirez. Damion Lowe and Brent Kallman formed the central defense, with Kevin Venegas and Justin Davis playing the outside backs. Sammy Ndjock played in goal.

Minnesota began the game on the front foot, with a bouncing ball nearly being headed in by Laing in the 1st minute. The Loons didn’t press as highly, which worked as both teams looked to play forward quickly. Despite Minnesota’s early press, the first big chance went to Ottawa, when Giuseppe Gentile beat Lowe and had a shot saved by Ndjock.

In the 20th minute, seemingly from nowhere, some quick passing from Pitchkolan to Speas caromed off Ramirez and fell for Watson, who made no mistake and slotted his second goal home in as many games. As Ottawa pressed to get an equalizer after Watson’s goal, the game devolved into neither team demonstrating a lot of control. Both moved up and down the field quickly and both committed several fouls.

Ottawa continued to control the majority of possession, but Minnesota defended well and prevented the Fury from having big chances on goal. Ibson went down and stayed down in the 42nd minute, appearing to have been injured during a sliding challenge for the ball. He was able to walk off the field under his own power and stayed in the match.

In the 45th minute, Ramirez and Laing shouted for a handball call, but the referee waived it off. As Laing drew a midfield foul, the official blew halftime. United entered the break up 1-0, as it did last week.

The second half began more evenly, with Minnesota controlling more of the ball than it did in the first half. Neither team created chances for themselves early; Speas thought he had earned a penalty kick but was carded for simulation. In the 57th minute, Lowe missed a header and Gentile beat Ndjock at the near post to level the game at one apiece.

Ottawa continued to control the majority of the possession after the equalizer, with Minnesota attempting to break quickly. Neither team managed to create chances or control the ball especially well. United struggled to find its first touch and Ottawa’s attacks fell apart as they ran into the Minnesota defense or a pass went awry.

United’s defense held strong, but the visitors failed to create chances for themselves. Fortunately, the same was true of the hosts. Fouls began to be called more on Minnesota as Ottawa continued to press to find a second goal. They found it in the 82nd minute, when Ryan Williams got on the end of a Carl Haworth pass that deflected off Kallman. His looping shot found the far corner and Ottawa took a 2-1 lead.

As Minnesota pressed forward to find a second goal, Ottawa created more chances and found a third goal in the 86th minute when Lance Rozeboom collected a pass from Haworth — who had all day on the edge of the box to pick his pass — and slotted it home past Ndjock and Lowe.

Minnesota continued to try to regain a foothold in the match, but again they were undone against the Fury by late goals. With their third straight loss, and second to Ottawa, Minnesota slides to fifth on the Fall Table (behind Ottawa on goal differential). On the combined table, United is still fourth, but barely. Tampa Bay Rowdies, at time of writing, have a game in hand over United and are just one point back. United’s control of its own fate has fallen away, and now United not only need to find wins, but needs other teams to lose.

The Loons next play on Saturday, October 1 when Jacksonville visits the National Sports Center at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

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