Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rowdies

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Minnesota United Slump to a 2-2 Draw with the Rowdies

by on 5 October 2016

Minnesota United broke their four match losing streak but still slouched toward a late draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies as twice the Loons went up and twice they were pegged back. Even on points with the Rowdies, a win would have pushed Minnesota in the direction of the playoffs. A draw leaves them scratching for their NASL playoff future.

On a stormy night, Tampa Bay came out on the front foot and were almost rewarded for the effort. Joe Cole found a cleared ball and put a hard shot to the near post that Sammy Ndjock parried in the 12th minute.

Not long after, though, the Loons started to gain traction. For the next ten minutes they pushed forward and eventually broke through in the 18th minute through Christian Ramirez’s 16th goal of the season. Jeb[!] Brovsky sent in a long-distance shot that Matt Pickens pushed onto the crossbar. The ball bounced off the crossbar and back into play as the Rowdies defense fell asleep and let Ramirez run on to the ball. The Loons striker coolly finished to make it 0-1 for the visitors.

After the goal, the Loons looked invigorated and were able to string together passes. But for the third week in a row, Minnesota conceded a goal after going up. In the 31st minute, a poor clearance found Georgi Hristov who was all alone and able to finish all too easily. The first half fizzled to a close, even between the sides.

The Loons drew first blood in the second half with an early goal from J.C. Banks in the 51st minute. After a long series of passes, Kevin Venegas sent in a corner that was pushed high by Matt Pickens. Ramirez went up for a header but looked to take an elbow to the face that the referee missed. The ball fell to Banksy, who held off three defenders before turning and sending the ball into the far post, nutmegging a defender on the way.

Stefano Pinho almost added a third in the 57th minute with a curling shot from a poor clearance. The game seemed to slow to a crawl until, in the 70th minute, Jamie Watson (who came in for Danny Cruz) was sent clear by a lazer-guided pass from Ibson. Pickens did well to save Watson’s shot. Again, late in the match Watson raced toward goal and elected to pass rather than shoot.

Minnesota stifled the match by holding on to possession until five minutes of stoppage time flashed from the fourth referee’s board. At that point, the game grew frenetic and in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, Keith Savage put a deflected cross into the back of the net.

It was another heartbreak in a season of heartbreaks. The draw did not doom the Loons’ playoff chances, but it allowed the light to grow slowly dimmer. Minnesota heads to Puerto Rico next for Saturday’s matchup against Puerto Rico FC.

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