The early afternoon showers had passed quickly, leaving Minneapolis unseasonably cool and windy. Fans were bundled in blankets and winter hats, while Minnesota United FC would play their second game in four days against a Western conference and former NASL foe.
For coach Adrian Heath, he based the starting lineup off the belief that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, particularly if there is no one else you trust to start. There was only one difference from the lineup that took down Portland Timbers 3-2 on Wednesday. With Abu Danladi out with a red card suspension, Johan Venegas stepped into the right winger role. The back four was again Jérôme Thiessen on the left, Francisco Calvo and Brent Kallman in the middle, and Kevin Venegas with his third MLS start on the right.
Sam Cronin and Ibson were in the center of the field, with Ibarra on the left opposite Johan Venegas. Christian Ramirez was up top, a spot he has not relinquished since starting on the bench for the first match of the season.
“For soccer players, there’s nothing better [than playing a game]. I see them as nice weeks.”
For the players, two games in a week just replaces a hard Wednesday practice with a match. Even with the Loons ready to play two games in the week, coach Heath is clearly desperate for more players, saying the team needed reinforcements in post game comments. With the midseason transfer window opening in two weeks, the team hopes to supplement their current lineup and fight for a playoff spot.
“At half time, I told the team, if you want to play a nice game of football, that’s great. But you’ve got to make people uncomfortable.”
Minnesota came out of the gate controlling the game, while Vancouver looked out of their depth. The Loons seemed to play an inadvertent high press, forced into it by the poor first touches and weak passing of the Whitecaps. From the first minute, United looked dangerous, controlling the ball, but never finding an opening in front of goal.
It would be the visitors who would strike first. Kevin Venegas, after helping to win the ball back just outside Minnesota’s 18-yard box, had a terrible back pass that was gobbled up by Brek Shea, who was taken down by Bobby Shuttleworth, earning the keeper a yellow card in the process.
From the spot, Cristian Techera’s left foot shot the ball to the left post hard and low, leaving Shuttleworth with no hope of stopping the penalty kick.
Even with the dominant possession, it was Vancouver with the most dangerous looks in the early going. Shuttleworth had to make a great save on Jordan Harvey when he broke through on goal, the goalkeeper cleverly waiting until the last moment to go to ground to deny the Whitecap.
Trying to make up for his gaffe, Kevin Venegas came up big with a steal deep in Vancouver territory. His quick cross was headed out, On the ensuing corner kick, the Caps cleared the ball, but only as far as Thiesson. His sharply hit ball found a barely-onside Molino, but his shot went just wide of the far post.
The Whitecaps looked to slow the game down, walking slowly when ever they have a throw in or corner kick. Even in the first half, Vancouver looked to draw out the game, limiting the opportunities of the home team.
In the 41’ minute, penalty shouts rang around the inner bowl of the Bank after a cross from Molino was interrupted when Ibarra ended up on the ground. The center ref quickly waved it off and played on. The non-call got the crowd going, with the “Come on You Loons” chant soon raining down from nearly every corner of the stadium.
Still, all the control, the chances on goal, the possession, and the passion from the crowd won’t matter if you can’t score goals. It would be Vancouver who found a goal with the last play of the half. After Kallman fouled Alphonso Davies, on the ensuing free kick, Tony Tchani found himself free in the box and headed the ball into the upper ninety with authority.
Minnesota made the long walk around the far boards down two at the half, despite leading in possession percentage, shots, and corners.
— Photog Dan (@DMickCreative) June 25, 2017
Minnesota came out after the half ready to fight back. After Kallman had to step off the field in the 47’ minute with a knock, three minutes later his center back partner Calvo headed in the ball to cut the visitors’ lead in half.
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) June 25, 2017
Still down a goal in the 63rd minute, Minnesota took a quick, short corner kick. With Vancouver’s defense sitting back and seemingly surprised, Ibarra was able to find Thiesson wide open 25 yards out. His first time shot through a crowd of people had eyes, and Ousted’s dive was too late to prevent the tying goal.
Further endearing him with the fans, Thiesson celebration included flapping his arms like a Loon.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 25, 2017
Shuttleworth came up big in the 79’ to keep the score even at two. After some complacent defending, Vancouver put a sharp cross into the box that was headed by second half substitute Bernie Ibini-Isei right on goal. Shuttleworth stretched, putting a palm on the ball and pushing the ball just wide of the goal.
“We can’t wait until half time and I come in and lose my voice to get the reaction that we had. Because if we do, it’s not going to be enough.”
Minnesota fought until the end, rushing the ball back into play, pushing for the final goal. Molino had the best chance in the end, with his sliding shot blocked on the goal line by Ousted.
Three points were not to be and Minnesota had to settle for a four-point week.
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 25, 2017
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 25, 2017
Minnesota United FC 2 – Vancouver Whitecaps 2
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. (CDT)
Weather: 62°, Mostly Sunny and Windy
Techera (17’ PK)
Bobby Shuttleworth (16′, Unsporting Behavior)
Tony Tchani (26′, Unsporting Behavior
Brent Kallman (45’+1′, Unsporting Behavior
Jérôme Thiesson (54′, Handball)
Ibson (59′, Unsporting Behavior
Cristian Techera (65′, Unsporting Behavior)
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