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Minnesota Falls Flat, Lose 2-1 Away to Houston

by on 1 October 2017

Minnesota crashed back to Earth after riding high on a two-game win streak. Strong play from Bobby Shuttleworth kept Houston off the board in the first half, but the floodgates opened in the second. Goals from Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto were enough to see the Loons off. Sam Nicholson managed to open his Minnesota and MLS accounts with a late long shot, but it proved to just be a consolation goal.

Starting lineups

Coming off its first two-game win streak in MLS history, Minnesota’s lineup remained unchanged. Between the sticks was Shuttleworth, who had two penalty saves in his past two games. On defense was Marc Burch, Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall, and Jérôme Thiesson. Collin Martin and Ibson remained as the two holding midfielders. On the wings were Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay — both of whom scored in their last game. Up top was Christian Ramirez, playing right in front of Kevin Molino.

The Houston Dynamo rotated its starting lineup after a 3-3 draw against LA Galaxy. Tyler Deric remained in goal. Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, and A.J. DeLaGarza retained their spots in the back line as DaMarcus Beasley was replaced by Dylan Remick. Captain Ricardo Clark partnered up with Eric Alexander, who replaced Juan Cabezas. Alex again settled in at the No. 10 spot. The wingers were unchanged as Elis and Quioto lined up on the right and left respectively. Mauro Manotas replaced Erick “Cubo” Torres up top.

Both past meetings between these teams ended in draws. Second-half goals from Ramirez and Johan Venegas clawed back a draw early in the season at BBVA Compass Stadium. The second meeting was a drab affair that ended 0-0 at TCF Bank Stadium in July.

First half

The first 15 minutes were controlled by Minnesota. For a team who had conceded early in its past three matches, having zeros across the board is an accomplishment.

The first clear-cut chance came from Houston. In the 21st minute, Elis sent in a long cross to the far post. Quioto beat Thiesson to the ball, but sent it into row Z. The next chance also came from Houston. In the 26th minute, Alex danced through the midfield and into the box. His shot was blocked by Boxall and corralled by Shuttleworth. The play started to shift in Houston’s favor.

In the 36th minute, Quioto latched on to a long ball forward. He managed to muscle past Thiesson and took a shot on goal. Shuttleworth made a diving save and the ball was cleared by Martin. In the 42nd minute, Elis and Quioto were in on goal with just Boxall and Shuttleworth to beat. Elis played the ball across to Quioto who shot the ball straight at Shuttleworth. Houston should have been one or possibly even two up when the whistle blew for halftime.

The first 15 or 20 minutes were controlled by Minnesota. However, it was a lot of possession without any purpose. Houston started to get into the game around the 20th minute and never looked back. Thanks to Shuttleworth, the score remained 0-0 at halftime with Minnesota looking like the team that played on Wednesday, not the team that was coming off a two-game win streak.

Second half

At halftime, Andrew Wenger was substituted in for Manotas. Minnesota started the second half with the spark it was missing in the first. Some good passing between Ibarra and Molino led to the first dangerous cross of the game. Remick cleared, but only as far as Martin who let rip on goal, only to hit Finlay in the chest.

Molino again found himself on the wing. With a clever touch, he cruised past DeLaGarza and sent a cross in that found Finlay. Finlay tallied Minnesota’s first shot on goal, but it was saved by Deric. Minnesota’s attacks were starting to have a purpose.

In the 59th minute, Quioto won the ball from Thiesson. Quioto played a give-and-go with Alex and was in on goal. Out of nowhere, Calvo sped in and executed an inch-perfect tackle in the box to send the ball out for a throw-in.

In the 61st minute, Ibson caught Alex just outside the box. At the break, Alex came off the pitch for Vicente Sánchez, who took the free kick and sent it over. Two minutes later, Wenger sent in a low cross to Elis. Sanchez seemed to get in the way and throw off Elis, who sent a weak dribbler to Shuttleworth’s waiting hands.

Boxall received the match’s first yellow card after he took down a streaking Elis. The resulting free kick was easily grabbed by Shuttleworth.

Molino gave the ball away after a miscommunication with Finlay. The ball was played out to Sánchez on the wing, who sent in a cross to Elis who headed the ball into the back of the net. He received a yellow card for his celebration. After 69 minutes, Houston finally broke through. After the goal, Minnesota made some tactical changes. Ibarra and Molino made way for Abu Danladi and Johan Venegas. The Loons also changed their shape, switching to a 4-4-2 with Danladi and Ramirez playing up top. In the 73rd minute, Houston used its last sub as Alexander made way for Beasley.

Minnesota’s substitutes combined nicely as Venegas spun away from pressure and played the ball to Finlay. Finlay sent a nice through-ball into the box to Danladi, who shot into the side netting.

A free kick by Houston was sent into the box. Shuttleworth went up to punch the ball away and succeeded. Unfortunately, he also caught Elis with a shoulder. Thiesson sent the ball out. The trainers attended to Elis, who was able to continue. During the break, Minnesota used its last substitution. Burch made way for Sam Nicholson. On the resulting corner, Quioto headed the ball home for his sixth goal of the season. He also received a yellow card for his celebration. Minnesota had five minutes plus stoppage time to mount any sort of a comeback.

Calvo received a yellow card in the 87th minute for a tactical foul on Wenger. In the first minute of stoppage time, Nicholson cut inside from the wing near the edge of the box and let it rip. The ball curled into the far post just past an outstretched Deric but it was too little too late. Minnesota fell to Houston 2-1.

By the numbers

Three stars

Scoring summary

68′ YC MIN – Michael Boxall
69′ Goal HOU – Alberth Elis (10) (Assist: Vicente Sánchez)
70′ YC HOU – Alberth Elis
85′ Goal HOU – Romell Quioto (6) (Assist: Vicente Sánchez)
85′ YC HOU – Romell Quioto
87′ YC MIN – Francisco Calvo
90+1′ Goal MIN – Sam Nicholson (1) (Assist: Francisco Calvo)


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