Molino likes pina coladas and scoring Olimpicos in the rain. Courtesy of Minnesota United FC

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Minnesota United Draws Vancouver to Open Portland Preseason

by on 9 February 2017

Minnesota United FC kicked off its preseason in earnest on Thursday, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Kevin Molino put the Loons ahead with an Olimpico in the 50th minute before the Caps evened up the score in the 82nd.

The Loons played their first streamed match of the preseason, giving fans a chance to finally see a drastically different team line up than the Loons made use of just four months ago. Justin Davis was the lone NASL-era starter to line up for Minnesota on the evening.

The match started as most preseason matches do: ponderously and out of sync. Both teams were feeling themselves out as much as their opposition, though Vancouver had perhaps the better chances in the first half.

Loons ‘keeper John Alvbåge came bravely off his line to stop a couple of attacks, most notably sliding in the ninth minute to strip the ball off the oncoming Caps attack. Additionally, the center back partnership of Francisco Calvo and the club’s new (not yet official) captain, Vadim Demidov, marshaled the defense well. The squad couldn’t quite get much going in the final third, however.

By the second half, United started to coalesce and connect more, leading most notably to a rocket from the top of the box from Miguel Ibarra. Vancouver’s ‘keeper, David Ousted, did well to make an acrobatic save as the ball curled away from him, putting the ball over for a corner.

Molino took the corner kick and exploited Ousted’s lack of focus, sending an audacious, low, curling ball toward the goal. Defending his goal, Erik Hurtado appeared to get something on the ball, but the goal was credited to Molino, whose first goal for the Loons was an Olimpico.

After the goal, Minnesota began to swagger in possession. The match may not have reached Himalayan peaks of beauty, but United began to show how it might provide dazzling moments in the near future with quick, deft possession play.

In the 70th minute, Adrian Heath made wholesale changes to his side, leaving only Alvbåge on the pitch as 10 outfield players were subbed off. The new squad did reasonably well linking up with one another, but Vancouver began to push back and find a foothold.

In the 81st minute, the Caps’ effort paid off when Russell Teibert took a bouncing ball outside the box and sent a worm-burner inside the the far post, past Alvbåge’s fingertips. Minnesota made one last push to take the advantage, which led to a scrappy bit of play inside the box ending with referee Mark Geiger bizarrely booking Raul Gonzalez for diving. The player went down inside the box, but made no effort to sell it as a penalty, and yet was carded for simulation.

Minutes later, Geiger called an end to the match and the two sides each took lessons that they will put into play when they return to preseason action in a few days’ time.

Minnesota will face the Portland Timbers at 7:00 p.m. Central on Sunday.

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