Courtesy of Minnesota United FC


Minnesota United Play to Another Preseason Draw in Preview of MLS Opener

by on 12 February 2017

In two and a half weeks, Minnesota United will open the MLS season at Providence Park in Portland. On Sunday night, fans got a small taste of what that night might look like when the Loons and Timbers played to a 2-2 draw.

Both teams played with lineups that featured very few of the players who will start on March 3; only Bashkim Kadrii, Johan Venegas, Kevin Molino, and John Alvbåge are likely regular starters.

The match started heavily in Portland’s favor as Victor Arboleda looked particularly dangerous down the Timbers’ left flank. After surviving the first fifteen minutes — including a point-blank save from Alvbåge — the Loons started to get their legs.

The game changed in the 25th minute when Kevin Molino did the absolute dirty on Timbers defender Zarek Valentine and sent a hard shot in on Jeff Attinella. The Timbers keeper saved the ball, but it fell to Johan Venegas, who headed it in.

Minnesota struck again soon after when a backheel from Kadrii put Johan Venegas in on goal. The Costa Rican then slipped the ball between Attinella’s legs for his brace.

The game could have been put to bed by the end of the half when Kadrii sent in a scorcher from distance, but it cannoned off the crossbar. He would later send 2nd half keeper Jake Gleeson diving to save another hard-hit shot from distance, giving fans a preview of his power.

In the second half, the Timbers started to creep back into the game, particularly as they subbed on more and more first team players. For their part, Minnesota brought on Christian Ramirez, Eugene Starikov (trialist), and Alvin Jones (trialist) for Johan Venegas, Kevin Molino, and Kevin Venegas.

In the 51st minute, Portland struck back when a poor clearance landed for Jack McInerney, who muscled past a flat-footed Brent Kallman and smacked the ball into the roof of the net. Less than 10 minutes later, the Timbers changed out their entire side and the game had settled to an even back-and-forth.

The Timbers had one last point to make, though, when Fanendo Adi beautifully finished off a cross with a backheel, making the game 2-2.

Despite the match being played between two weakened sides, there were plenty of positives to take from the Loons’ performance. The intricate interplay between Johan Venegas, Kadrii, and Molino will have many fans purring. But some players like Collin Martin, Ismaila Jome, and Brent Kallman showed that Minnesota’s depth may be better than many have imagined.

The Loons play one more match in Portland against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening.

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