Photo courtesy Minnesota United FC.

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Minnesota United FC Allows Five Goals Again, Loses 5-2 to New England Revolution

by on 25 March 2017

Minnesota United FC, missing nine players, lost 5-2 to the New England Revolution in Foxborough, Mass. Juan Agudelo scored two goals for New England, and earned a penalty that Lee Nguyen converted. Kei Kamara and Chris Tierney also got on the scoreboard for the Revolution, with Brent Kallman and Collen Warner scoring conciliatory goals for the Loons.

An expansion year is always filled with challenges, but after a solid showing against the Colorado Rapids last week, Minnesota certainly had hoped this week would be easier. Instead, suspensions, injuries, and the international break left the Loons without a number of players and put them behind the proverbial eight ball again.

Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas joined the Costa Rican national team, and Kevin Molino was away with the Trinadad and Tobago squad for CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Rasmus Schüller was called up by Finland for their World Cup qualifier and friendly, while Justin Davis picked up a contraversial straight red card last week against Colorado, and was suspended.

With injuries to Joe Greenspan, Bernardo Anòr, John Alvbåge, and Patrick McLain, Minnesota could dress only 17 players.

Missing five starters from last week, it was a new look starting XI for the Loons. The back line was manned by Brent Kallman and Vadim Demidov in the middle center, with Jerome Thiessen on the left and NASL-era Loon Kevin Venegas starting at right back in his first MLS appearance.

Against the Revs’ midfield diamond, Minnesota started with three midfielders: Ibson, Mohammed Saeid, and Collen Warner. Ibson had provided the spark that brought Minnesota back against Colorado, but there was no true attacking midfielder in that trio.

Miguel Ibarra and Bashkim Kadrii got starts on wings, while Christian Ramirez was the solitary striker up top. Bobby Shuttleworth started in goal for the second-straight week, with Alvbåge’s leg still on the mend.

First half

The match started at a frantic pace, as New England looked to capitalize on the early defensive miscues that have cost Minnesota in recent games. The Loons looked aware of their defensive issues and all 10 field players defended from within 30 yards of the end line, including Ramirez.

It didn’t help.

A cross found Agudelo in a pocket of space in front of goal. Warner was the only Loon near the forward, but was on the wrong side of the forward to intervene. Agudelo buried his header in the back of the goal to give New England an early fourth-minute goal.

Minnesota looked lost for most of the first half, with miscommunication and a lack of shape the rule rather than the exception, defensively.

Still, with all its struggles, Minnesota managed to pull level through a smart bit of play and a lucky bounce.

It started with Kallman stopping Kamara on a Revs’ attack. On the ensuing counter, Warner was dispossessed, but the ball bounced off a Revolution player and right to Ramirez. The forward smartly laid the ball off to Warner, who’s shot beat Cody Cropper to the right post, producing a 1-1 scoreline in the 15th minute against the run of play.

If Minnesota had been able to settle in and organized itself at the back, the Loons might have had a chance. Instead, its defense left large gaps that New England was more than happy to exploit.

In the 21st minute, Nguyen dissected the Loons’ back line with a ball into the 18-yard box, finding Kamara a step ahead of Thiessen, with the forward scoring the Revolution’s second goal.

New England smelled blood.

In the 32nd minute, the Revs seized on an opportunity to attack three-on-two. Agudelo held the ball up for a moment in the box, and drew a penalty after Demidov used his body to stop Agudelo’s run. Shuttleworth was able to guess the direction of Nguyen’s subsequent penalty, but couldn’t keep the ball out of the back of the net.

Things got worse for Minnesota in the 41st minute, as the Revs went up 4-1 on Agadelo’s second goal of the afternoon. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough for the visiting side.

Second half

The second 45 minutes proved to be much better for Minnesota, but the first-half deficit was too much for the Loons to overcome. Jermaine Taylor and Abu Danladi entered the game for wingers Ibarra and Kadrii, and Minnesota shifted into a 3-5-2 formation with Thiessen and K. Venegas playing higher up the field.

The shift paid early returns, as Minnesota controlled the game to start the half, earning a dangerous free kick in the 49th minute. Ramirez’ run to the back post off Saeid’s in-swinger forced a poor clearance by New England, and Kallman was able to poke the loose ball past Cropper for Minnesota’s second goal.

If the Loons could have held New England, the narrative heading into Minnesota’s second home game next weekend would have been one of continuous (albeit gradual) improvement and learning from mistakes.

Instead, Diego Fagúndez was fouled just outside the penalty area, but the attacker’s momentum carried him into the box where he fell to ground, prompting a penalty call from referee Ricardo Salazar. Chris Tierney converted from the spot, and the Revs led 5-1 in the 53rd minute. For the remaining 25 minutes, New England rarely emerged from its half, happy to defend deep and wait for the game’s end.

While Minnesota had a few late chances, it couldn’t find a third goal and the game ended 5-2 in favor of New England.

FiftyFive.One’s five stars

Match statistics

New England Revolution 5, Minnesota United FC 2
Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (CST)
Weather: 40°, Cloudy

Scoring summary
Juan Agudelo (4′, 41′)
Collen Warner (15′)
Kei Kamara (21′)
Lee Nguyen (32′, PEN)
Brent Kallman (49′)
Chris Tierney (53′, PEN)

Discipline
None.

 

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  • Jeremy Thornton

    Another tough game and I suspect it won’t be the last. We just don’t have enough talent and when you are missing a good portion of guys on top of that….tough draw.

    Great to see Kallman play another solid game. Glad he was rewarded with a favorable bounce and finish for a goal.

  • Matt

    This game did expose what has been clear for some time, that we lack depth in our roster. Also clear that there is a common denominator in all three of our blowout loses, Demidov. He needs to be benched or moved to a different position.

    Had hoped to see more from Danladi as he had more playing time. Also a theme is emerging, that we give up backbreaking goals almost immediately after scoring in the second half to get back in the game. Happened in Portland, Colorado and today.

    Great to see a strong game for Kallman, and for others to score besides Ramirez and Molino. Looking forward to the folks we were missing today to be back next week.

    • David Sterling

      Demidov needs to be benched period. There is no place for him on the starting roster. Warner and Schuller are much better suited in MF than he is, though, I suppose I could make an argument against Schuller after the Rapids game. He was a bit all over the place, but he is more of an attacker to begin with. I think it depends on the team in front of us, but I think Demidov’s faults at CB could leak into the MF. If he can’t mark or keep up at CB, he won’t at CDM. The only saving grace is that there should be someone behind him to pick up the slack.

  • John Asbury

    Move Demidov to a defensive midfielder position, and we should be “not horrible” when the others return to the lineup. How about an article about defensive players we could trade for or otherwise acquire?

    • Jacob

      Be sure to CC: Manny and Amos.

    • Chris RB

      I’d try him at DM as a sub in the 2nd half. I don’t know that I’d trust him to start another game unless there is literally no other choice.

  • Alberto Valsecchi

    4-4-2 or 5-3-2 otherwise we will break the record of allowed goals in MLS.
    With a more covered line up we will play may be in ugly way but we can draw 0-0 or 1-1 and loose 0-1 or 1-2 but we can even win some matches 1-0 or 2-1.
    I am tired and bothered of massacre loss

  • nomadic loon

    That target logo really stands out on the front of the shirts. It would be nice if the names and numbers on the back of the shirts used the same color so they too would stand out. This will help fans identify the players. New England shirts were much easier to read.

    • Lucas Cragg

      Agreed, it was almost impossible to read the Loons’ names/numbers on TV

  • David Sterling

    I’m not sure which is worse, the scoreline showing 5 goals given up, or the fact that I am no longer surprised. According to MLS’ stats, we had a slight edge in possession, better passing accuracy (with more passes), won more tackles, won nearly double the duels and played a really clean game (1/3 the fouls). Even with that, we were essentially even in SOG (6/5) as well.
    I thought this was a good sign, until I started to look at the chalkboards.

    We rarely attempt to infiltrate the middle of the field inside 30 yards; and when we do, we generally fail. Probably 75% of our passes were 45 yards and back into our half, and maybe 60-70% of those were on our side. I would estimate 85-90% of our passes into the middle and inside 25-30 yards were missed, basically creating a U formation on the field, never causing their defense any distress.
    Initially, I thought this was maybe the lineup, but then I compared the chalkboards of the prior games. Every game, the majority of the missed passes come into the middle, and we create that same U inside 30 yards; and with the exception of Portland, most of our passes are midfield or back.
    If that isn’t enough, we have employed the long-ball strategy a number of times, and by every game (Portland is a bit difficult to see), it hasn’t worked. A failure rate of 95% probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration, but anyone who has watched lower divisions or weaker teams in England has seen how this fails time and again; but we aren’t in lower-division England, and we aren’t [supposed to be] a poor quality team.

    So what gives? It doesn’t matter the personnel on the field, Heath has failed to attack, and continues to attempt to score from the wings. Our front five are rather creative players, let them create and move for once. If this doesn’t change against RSL, I can’t see Heath ever making the adjustments necessary to win. Again, this is a complaint Orlando had of him, and I think we need to stop blaming this on the Kaka situation. It is quite evident this is a Heath issue, and only he can fix it. He needs to start at home against RSL. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dea3122290ccf78bdc656ab9d75cc28bee23eade5808ce61cbd5c6182cfe6c32.png