It was a sunny day in Minneapolis as Minnesota United FC took the field against the Portland Timbers. 18,442 fans crowded TCF Bank Stadium, hoping to see the home side break its two-game loss streak against the visiting West-coast team.
In the first match of the Loons’ MLS career, Portland defeated the newcomers 5-1, with Christian Ramirez scoring the lone goal for Minnesota. The scoreline was unkind to the Loons, with three of the goals coming after the 80th minute and two of those three coming after the 90th.
Both teams lost on the Saturday previous, and both teams play the coming weekend. Still, the Minnesota team that faced Portland on the West Coast was very different from the squad that took the field in Dinkytown.
Adrian Heath ran out the same lineup that was defeated 1-0 away to Real Salt Lake just four days prior. Additions were made to the bench, which consisted of Pat McLain, Jermaine Taylor, Justin Davis, Collen Warner, Rasmus Schüller, Collin Martin, and Bashkim Kadrii.
This means Jérôme Thiesson made his second consecutive start on the left side of the defense, with Kevin Venegas his mirror on the right. Abu Danladi started on the right wing, with Ibarra on the left, and Kevin Molino in the center behind Christian Ramirez.
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) June 21, 2017
Portland head coach Caleb Porter made five changes from the Timbers’ 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The holdovers from the Colorado match for Portland were Roy Miller, Diego Chara, and attacking stalwarts Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Sebastián Blanco, and Fanendo Adi.
Today's Starting XI at @MNUFC.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) June 21, 2017
The defensive line for Portland took the heaviest rotation. Including Jeff Attinella in goal, four of the five changes came in the defensive third for the Timbers. Miller, at 32 years old, was the veteran, having started 126 MLS matches since 2010 (as a member of the New York Red Bulls). Marco Farfan is at the other end; the 18-year-old made only his fifth appearance in an MLS game.
The Sun was in Jeff Attinella’s eyes as the game kicked off, the long shadow of the TCF marquee covering nearly two thirds of the field. The first chance to score came for the Loons, when Kevin Molino was taken down near the halfway line. The ensuing free kick was flicked on by Ibarra and steered just wide by Francisco Calvo. The following corner kick went equally close. On the next corner, Minnesota found the net, just 6:30 into the game. A blocked corner found Ibson, who passed to Kevin Molino near the right edge of the penalty area. Molino sent Sam Cronin through, and Cronin’s low cross was deflected in by Amobi Okugo.
With the Timbers attempting to press forward, United was able to find more space than against RSL. Jérôme Thiesson cut in and sent a hard shot into Attinella, who parried. He repeated the feat moments later on a hard shot from Miguel Ibarra.
Portland continued to get forward, but was unable to find space for shots. After some defending, Ibson fell and stayed down. He received treatment, but stayed in the match. Minnesota began to sit and allow Portland to control the ball, but sat deep to deny the visitors chances at goal. Still, they came in fits. David Guzmán took a hard swerving shot from 24 yards out that seemed to fool Bobby Shuttleworth in the air. Moments later, a through ball was snatched from the foot of Diego Valeri, who was in on goal. At the other end, a low volley from Ibson went out for a Minnesota corner.
All seemed to be well for the Loons until the 36th minute. A long ball found Valeri surrounded by Minnesota defenders. Bobby Shuttleworth came to get the ball and clattered Valeri, resulting in a penalty kick for the Portland dangerman. He fired the kick to the top left corner to level the game.
Minnesota pressed forward to take the lead back, and Portland defended physically. The Loons earned multiple free kicks near the final third, but couldn’t make any pay. Christian Ramirez came close, but Attinella tipped the long cross out for another United corner.
Forced into defending, Portland packed the box. Minnesota sent in several good crosses, but couldn’t connect, and the half ended with the score level 1-1.
Portland, either in an effort to shore up the defense or in preparation for another short turnaround, substituted 18-year-old Marco Farfan at the half for Vytas Andriuškevičius, a 26-year-old making only his 21st appearance in MLS.
If the aim was to steady the defense, it wasn’t successful. In the 47th minute a hard low through ball from Kevin Molino found Christian Ramirez, who popped the ball into the air. Using the same foot, Ramirez swiped the ball into the back of the net with the outside of his boot.
Just two minutes later, Portland leveled. A driven cross made it past Shuttleworth, but looked to be heading wide before Calvo inadvertently deflected it in. With each team scoring an own-goal, the game was again level at 2 goals apiece.
Pushing forward yet again, both teams asked questions of the goalies. Ibarra, sent through by a ball from Molino, forced a reflex save from Attinella. At the other end, Shuttleworth punched a hard shot out of danger.
With both teams scoring own-goals and neither happy with a draw, the game became more physical. Both teams were whistled for fouls, with Minnesota fans vociferously expressing the agreement (or lack thereof) for each call.
With both teams pressing forward, chances began to open up for both teams. In the 64th minute, Minnesota broke through again. A Thiesson cross from deep was batted down by Attinella, but fell to Danladi. The rookie took a control touch and made no mistake from the top of the 6-yard box, giving the home team the lead once more.
In the 70th minute, Blanco and Danladi collided while running for a loose ball. While on the ground, Blanco kicked Danladi, and Danladi retaliated. Center official Ted Unkel initially only saw the reaction, sending Danladi off in the 70th minute. He was advised seconds later that Blanco had initiated the kerfuffle, and gave the Timber his marching orders as well. With both sides down to 10 men, the match continued.
Portland made its second substitution of the match, sending on Dairon Asprilla for Valeri in the 76th minute. As Minnesota sat back to defend, Portland pushed forward to find another equalizer. Portland had what looked to be a clean look at goal, but Ibson appeared in front of the shot and blocked it at close range.
Hoping for a late goal, Porter made his third and final change in the 82nd minute. Diego Chara made way for Darren Mattocks, the veteran Jamaican forward making his 123rd MLS appearance. While waiting for a headed clearance, Christian Ramirez was kicked down by Roy Miller, who was issued a yellow card caution in the 85th minute.
After taking several fouls, Ramirez was substituted off in the 89th minute, Jermaine Taylor his replacement. Minnesota made its second sub in the 91st minute, with Collen Warner coming on for Ibson. Both Ibson and Ramirez were well received by the home fans.
With fans on their feet, whistles echoing around the stadium, full time was whistled with the 3-2 scoreline intact. Wonderwall echoed through Minneapolis as the team and its fans celebrated.
Minnesota was the dominant team in this match. Portland was not good money for its goals, with one coming from Shuttleworth’s mistake that led to the PK and the other from Calvo’s unfortunate own-goal. Adi, who tormented Minnesota’s defense in the season opener, was never a factor, having been marked out of the match by Brent Kallman. Calvo, despite the own-goal, was excellent defensively. Thiesson was solid going both directions, proving to be as effective on the left as he is on the right.
The next test for Minnesota will be at the end of this stretch of four games in 11 days when the Loons take on Vancouver this Saturday.
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 22, 2017
Minnesota 3 – 2 Portland Timbers
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium
Kickoff: 7:00 PM (CDT)
Weather: 80°, Sunny
Amobi Okugo (OG) (7’)
Diego Valeri (PK) (37’)
Christian Ramirez (47’)
Francisco Calvo (OG) (50’)
Abu Danladi (64’)
Abu Danladi (70’ Red Card, Violent Conduct)
Sebastián Blanco (71’ Red Card, Violent Conduct)
Roy Miller (85’, Unsporting Behavior)
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) June 22, 2017
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