Minnesota United FC Fall on the Road to Toronto FC, 3-2

by on 14 May 2017

Toronto FC was able to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the visiting Minnesota United FC. The first half ended with a slim one-goal lead for the home side with Sebastian Giovinco scoring on a penalty kick. Kevin Molino drew Minnesota level twice, once with a superb strike on a counter and once off the rebound after his initial free kick was blocked. An own goal off a Michael Bradley free kick put Toronto ahead and then a Tosaint Ricketts goal put the Reds ahead for good.


After a 2-0 win against one of the best sides in the Western Conference, coach Adrian Heath kept the lineup the same against the top team in the East, Toronto FC. Even with the same XI, Heath had a slight wrinkle.

The back four was still same, with Marc Burch and Jérôme Thiesson on the wings, and Francisco Calvo and Brent Kallman in the middle. Sam Cronin and Ibson were again paired in the midfield and Ibarra was out on the left. In the middle, as the second forward, was Kevin Molino. In Molino’s usual right side spot was Abu Danladi. This would prove to be a fateful decision.

Leading goalscorer for the Loons Christian Ramirez again was up top as the striker.

For Toronto, they have played 4 games in 11 days, and so head coach Greg Vanney has been forced to feature heavy rotation for their lineup. USMNT striker Jozy Altidore started on the bench, but Giovinco was back after dealing with a heel injury.

First half

Minnesota came into BMO Field with a clear game plan. Force Toronto to move the ball up the flanks and deny Bradley and Giovinco a chance to have the ball.

For much of the first half Minnesota defended calmly, never hurried. The Loons let Toronto have the larger share of possession, but kept their defensive shape, and only really pressed when in the final third.

After spending 19 minutes staying even with Toronto FC with neither team having a real chance on goal, Danladi gifted the Reds a penalty with a poor tackle on Raheem Edwards in the box. Giovinco waited for Shuttleworth to dive to his right, and then drove the ball down the middle.

In the 26th minute, Ibarra had a great scoop pass to Danladi in the box, but Danladi’s left-footed shot went just wide on the near side. A minute later, Danladi earned Minnesota a free kick just outside the eighteen, but Calvo’s attempt didn’t dip down soon enough behind the wall and sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

In the 43rd minute, Altidore came on for Giovinco, who had been hobbled by a heel injury and couldn’t continue.

Minnesota hoped to strike before the half, and pressed forward looking to create a shot on goal. A string of quick passes gave Ibarra a chance that had to be palmed above the goal. The ensuing corner was quickly dealt with by Toronto, and the home side entered the halftime break up 1-0.

Second half

In the 50th minute, a free kick in the attacking third nearly led to another goal for Toronto. Kallman tried to head the ball clear, but the ball instead went straight up. Toronto headed the ball to the far post, but Ricketts couldn’t quite get on the end of it and the ball went out for a goal kick.

Like the Loons had done six times before, they found the back of the net soon after the half. Abu Danladi had an excellent pass to Molino who headed the ball past Alex Bono to even the score at one.

Toronto quickly answered. Bradley bent a free kick from near the right corner perfectly to far post. Chris Mavinga and Ramirez were caught in a wrestling match and the ball bounced off the Minnesota striker and into the back of the net. The top team in the East was once again on top.

Minnesota kept believing they could earn a result. Pressing forward, Ibarra and Ibson fought hard to win the ball back along the end line and earned the team a corner kick. On the ensuing corner kick, a Toronto player was caught with his arm out and Minnesota had a penalty kick.

Molino’s shot was soft and Bono was able to block it but the Trinidad and Tobago player jumped on the rebound and leveled the game at two goals apiece.

By the 70th minute, Toronto began throwing 7 or 8 players forward, searching for the winning goal. The game became a war of attrition. Would Minnesota be able to hold onto the point on the road before the attacking strength of Toronto found the winning goal?

The steady defense of the first half was gone, replaced by desperation. Minnesota couldn’t get the ball out of their half, and finally Toronto was able to find their third goal. Altidore was held up by Cronin, but Thiesson’s clearance went right back to Altidore. He broke down the right flank and his cross found an open Ricketts.

The game ended in frustration for Minnesota, as the substitutions of Johan Venegas and Ish Jome weren’t able to jump start the offense and the Loons couldn’t get off a shot on goal to try and steal a point at the end.

As the whistle blew for full time, Minnesota was left to wonder what might have been. The team will need to regroup this week as they face a reeling Las Angeles Galaxy next Sunday at home.

Three stars

Match ratings


Match statistics

Toronto FC 3 – Minnesota United FC 2
Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. (CDT)
Weather: 62°, Sunny

Scoring Summary
TOR – Sebastian Giovinco (20′, PK)
MIN – Kevin Molino (52′)
TOR – Christian Ramirez (54′, OG)
MIN – Kevin Molino (62′)
TOR – Tosaint Ricketts (77′)

Jozy Altidore (90+3′ Not Retreating)


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  • Pete Bissen

    Venegas came on and did nothing with the opportunity. With Danladi already on the pitch, options were limited but he came on provided nothing apart from a glaring missed header. He has neither the speed nor the dribbling ability to do the things he is trying.
    When Ibson was subbed off, I jokingly said that Venegas should have been subbed off instead. Ibson was getting tired but he was still an effective player. Turns out, I should have been serious. Unfortunately, the Loons don’t have a viable sub when Ramirez and Danladi are on the pitch already.

  • C_A

    1. I am not sure about Danladi’s challenge that drew the penalty. It was a poor one (Danladi should have used his right foot to make the challenge, not his left one), but from the replays I saw, I could not tell if it was contact or diving on Edwards. I lean towards the latter.
    2. Toronto’s second goal I would have called an offensive fault. Mavinga was all over Ramirez and you can clearly see how his left arm is pulling down Ramirez.
    3. Third Toronto goal, was all brute force, sloppy clearance and sheer luck.

    4. Venegas looks like he only has two speeds. Slow and very slow. Not sure if it is the new baby effect, or what , but he needs to step up on the gas paddle, otherwise he will be on the transfer sheets coming this summer. As for that glaring chance he had… Unbelievable! He had the entire goal in front of him, and while he did choose the right solution (Bono was already starting to move to his right) he executed poorly, like a beginner.

    Over all not a bad performance, although we need to work out our defensive lapses.

    • Clark Starr

      Thought Danladi’s challenge was definite penalty and was one of the most bemusing fouls I’ve seen in a long time. Just cray cray. As to Ramirez, definitely he was being fouled. That said, referring of top flight games has gotten itself into a conundrum on dead ball plays in the box. There is just so much fouling going on. Maybe we need some fancy AI video review that totals up all the fouls and then gives a free kick/pen to the team with the least!

    • Andrew

      How many times already this year have we seen this team score a gutsy road goal only to followed up (almost immediately) by a morale-crushing goal on the other end?! I don’t have access to a replay and can’t seem to find mention of it anywhere, but I really want to know who committed the foul that led to goal #2. My recollection is that there were 2 guys there (1 defending and 1 covering) and one of them lost his head and committed the silly foul in a very dangerous position. More than the goal itself, the lack of awareness in that situation is what bothers me the most. And because it’s not the first time this has happened, I think it’s connected to a lack of clear leadership on the field and an inability to make swift tactical shifts. There needs to be an immediate change in mentality after Molino’s first goal. Who’s our vocal leader that sets the tone and provides focus (“NO stupid fouls…play the safe option…batten down the hatches here in the next few minutes…”). Off the field, it appears we’re slow to react as well.
      I think Warner was getting ready to check in, but what about that critical 2 or 3 minutes before he hits the field? Once again, we got caught resting almost immediately after landing a blow. Whether it’s the coach, the captain, or both…this can’t happen. You KNOW Toronto’s going to throw numbers forward at that point, and there’s a troubling pattern of inevitability developing here.

      The third/winning goal was definitely crushing, but that one comes down to execution. Jozy was an absolute beast on that play, and our defending and marking just wasn’t good enough. We had guys in position to make a play…they just didn’t make one. But, while imperfect, 1v1 defending and marking have been pretty solid over the last month or so and arguably one of the areas of most improvement.

      Overall, the guys played really well, and it’s gotta be hard for anyone wearing black and blue to look back on that game as anything other than a point that got away.

      • Pete Bissen

        I want to say it was Kallman that commited the actual foul. He went in with a slide tackle and took the other two guys out before getting the ball, if he did at all.