Courtesy of Minnesota United FC

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A Late Goal Gives United Its Fifth Draw of the Preseason

by on 16 February 2017

Two goals by Kevin Molino looked to set up Minnesota United for its first win of the preseason. Real Salt Lake answered with three goals of their own in the second half, but in the final seconds of the game Johan Venegas leveled the scoreline.

Minnesota began the game with a starting lineup that could very easily feature as team that will face the Portland Timbers next month in United’s MLS opener. The notable exception was keeper Patrick McLain who took the place of John Alvbåge.

The game started slowly for Minnesota as it attempted to build its attack from the back, but failed to create much danger for Salt Lake. Solid play and organization by the central defensive pairing of Francisco Calvo and Vadim Demidov kept RSL’s attack mostly quiet.

In the 24th minute Minnesota turned a run of sloppy play from both sides into a counter attack when Calvo played the ball to Christian Ramirez in RSL’s half. Ramirez sent a one-touch pass into the path of Johan Venegas along the right side of the field where the Costa Rican sent a low cross to a wide open Molino for an easy tap-in at the top of the six-yard box.

The United attack continued to press as the half progressed and nearly replicated its opening goal when Ramirez played Johan Venegas into the box. However, Venegas’ cross was blocked by an RSL defender. The ball did find Molino in the end, but Molino dragged his shot wide of the goal and just out of the reach of a sliding Ramirez.

Two minutes later Ramirez was in a similar position when he slid in to get a touch to a cross from Molino, but the ball popped up off his leg and fell harmlessly into the arms of former United keeper Matt Van Oekel.

Minnesota came out of halftime with the same attacking pressure it finished the first half with and within three minutes had their second goal of the night. After winning the ball in the middle of the field, Molino sent a long pass forward into the run of Ramirez on the right side. Molino continued his run into the box where he connected to a cross from Ramirez sending a powerful header past a frozen Van Oekel from the penalty spot.

In the 56th minute RSL pulled one back after Rasmus Schüller was called for a foul on Jordan Allen in the box. Yura Movsisyan, who had seen a number of his attacking runs flagged for offside, stepped up to take the penalty and placed his shot passed McLain into the lower left corner.

After the goal, Minnesota brought on Mohammed Saeid, Ibson, and Kevin Venegas for Collen Warner, Ramirez, and Jermaine Taylor. While the United midfield struggled to get back into rhythm, Salt Lake raised their pressure and made a mass substitution at the 75th minute mark.

The influx of fresh legs for RSL quickly began to overrun the tiring Minnesota defense and in the 79th minute the game was level. The pressure from three Salt Lake players led to a giveaway by Ibson in United’s half. The ball was then sent forward to Chad Barrett outside of the box. When no one from Minnesota stepped up Barrett took a touch to his left and sent a low shot through a couple of players, past a diving McLain and just inside the far post.

In the 87th minute RSL took the lead when Omar Holness sent a high cross towards the far post. Barrett sent a header back across the face of the goal where the ball got caught under the feet of Calvo. With the defender unable to clear the danger, RSL’s Andrew Brody pounced on the ball for Salt Lake’s third goal of the night.

The game seemed all but finished for Minnesota, but in the 93rd minute Molino found second-half substitute Eugene Starikov at midfield. Starikov played the ball forward, splitting the RSL center backs, for Johan Venegas to run on to. Venegas took one touch into the box before sending a shot far post to bring the game level in the dying seconds.

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