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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  • Jacob

    Is it just me or did the Loons have possession a lot more than Vancouver? I thought that was pretty encouraging. I didn’t expect the attack to be on the same page at this point, especially with Danladi getting the start, but everything up to the final ball looked good.

  • Clark Starr

    I was pleasantly surprised. As the article says, it took a while, but eventually there were several moments of quick passing, possession ball that were pretty and pretty impressive. I couldn’t listen with the sound so I have no idea who was doing what (the nameless jerseys are cool, but have a drawback or two), this was my first time seeing most of these players. Anyways… I’m so nervous about the new shirts. Some awful looking unis being revealed for other teams so far.

  • Blake Johnson

    I thought Molino looked brilliant on the ball, every time the ball as at his feet, you had the feeling something could happen.

    In my opinion, Danaldi looked/played like a rookie. Granted in the pouring rain, I thought his first touch let him down quite a few times. I’m going to chalk it up as first game jitters.

    Admittedly, I didn’t follow the squad in the NASL whatsoever, so i was pessimistic at the idea of starting 1, possibly 2, NASL fullbacks. With that being said, I thought Davis played great. Solid in defense and picked his spots very well to push forward.

    My last take away was if Taylor is our starting RB this season, this is going to be an issue. I’m hoping that Alvin Jones will get an opportunity to take the job.

    All in all, we looked like an expansion team, but I left the game with a more positive outlook on the season than I started.

    • Jacob

      Agreed on all points. Can’t wait to see some chemistry form up front because Molino looks like a star and there’s a lot of potential around him.

      Rough game for Danladi. I would love to get a glimpse of what Heath sees in him. I haven’t seen it so far. But to be fair, he’s a rookie in early preseason playing in the rain and got beat up by that defense. Not a great stage to perform on.

      Yeah Davis did very well on a busy night. Not having watched the Loons in NASL, I had him tabbed for the starting XI’s weakest link, but last night was encouraging. And surely Alvin Jones or K-Ven can beat out Taylor. I don’t know, maybe Heath isn’t looking for the RB to get forward much, and anticipates Taylor defending better? That doesn’t jive with my understanding of Heath’s system, but I’m no expert. I’m sure at Least Venegas will get a longer look there over the course of the tourney.

  • Peter Scholtz

    I thought it’s not an olimpico unless the ball goes in untouched? That was an own goal.

    • Tres Gatos

      No worries. You are not concussed. 😜

      It should have been counted as an own goal. Especially seeing as the flick on helped redirect it toward goal. An olimpico is definitely an untouched goal from the corner kick.

      • Peter Scholtz

        Hmmm…but now I’m wondering what it’s called if the goalie touches it but it still goes in. Seems like that should have the same about the same cachet value as an untouched goal from the corner.

    • Jim Oliver

      It’s and OlimpicOG.

  • Matt

    Vancouver seemed to have much more size and strength in the midfield. This may be a concern, that we may not have those qualities stacked up against other teams to control midfield play. We might get muscled around a bit.