Photo by Daniel Mick.

Photo by Daniel Mick.

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Minnesota United FC Draw Sporting KC 1-1 in Gritty Last Home Match

by on 9 October 2017

Minnesota United FC fought to earn a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC as both teams were missing a number of their top players due to international call ups. Diego Rubio scored in the last minutes before the half, but Brent Kallman leveled the score in the second half.

The final home game day started overcast and rainy, but the dark clouds finally dispersed in the mid afternoon. By game time, it had turned into an iconic fall evening in Minnesota. The difference was quite the stark contrast from the first home game, when the game was played through a driving snow storm.

In a way, the weather echoed the season of Minnesota United FC. The snow and cold of the home opener mirrored the poor play and shaky lineup of the home side. The final home game comes on the heels of a remarkable turnaround to the season, with Minnesota going 3-2-1 in the last month, including the first two away victories in MLS.

Lineups

Both teams were short-handed due to international call-ups. Minnesota was missing stalwarts Francisco Calvo and Kevin Molino, along with Johan Venegas, Jermaine Taylor, and Michael Boxall. Along with Sporting KC’s three USMNT players Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber, and  Graham Zusi, the visitors were also without James Musa, Kevin Oliveira, and Soony Saad due to international duty.

Coach Adrian Heath had been suggesting he wanted to see Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi paired up top, and with Molino out, this game was the perfect time to try it. Minnesota lined up in a traditional 4-4-2, with Joe Greenspan in for Calvo in the defensive line. The midfield pairing of Collin Martin and Ibson continued, with Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay on the wings.

Sporting Kansas City started a much different lineup than usual, but their center back pairing of Erik Palmer-Brown and Ike Opara and potential goalkeeper of the year Tim Melia remained intact. Kansas City’s defense came into the match leading the league with a 0.8 goals against average.

First half

The first half was a spirited, if slightly disorganized, affair. Sporting KC, even with a number of players missing, still employed their oppressive press. Minnesota struggled to find a way to break down the press and high off-side trap, often relying on low percentage long balls from one of the center backs.

It wouldn’t be until the 15th minute that Minnesota would have a good chance on goal, and that was only after a series of fortunate bounces and great hustle from Danladi. Unfortunately, that same hustle from the rookie led to Sporting Kansas City’s goal.

Late in the first half, Abu Danladi came sprinting in to help with defense. He was able to dispossess the Sporting player, but it fell right to Latif Blessing, whose clever pass found designated player Rubio in on goal. Bobby Shuttleworth dived in vain, and Sporting KC went into the locker rooms up one.

Second half

Sporting Kansas City spent much of the second half slowing the game down and frustrating the Minnesota players, causing delays in the game.

It wouldn’t be until Melia went out with a hamstring injury that Minnesota would find the back of the net.

Having earned a free kick 40 yards out from goal, Jérôme Thiesson passed the ball down the sideline to Danladi, whose cross found Brent Kallman’s head. Dykstra was able to only lay a finger on the ball, and Minnesota had leveled the score at 1-1.

After 18 more crazy minutes of play that included 6 or 7 shots by the visitors and a red card for Greenspan, the final whistle blew. It was a frenetic end to a very entertaining series of home matches for Minnesota United FC.

Highlights

Three stars

Match ratings

Match statistics

Minnesota United FC 1, Sporting Kansas City 1
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. (CST)
Weather: 63°, Sunny
Attendance: 23,060

Scoring summary
Diego Rubio (45+2′)
Brent Kallman (83′)

Discipline
Jerome Thiesson (Unsporting Behavior, 41′)
Seth Sinovic (Unsporting Behavior, 70′)
Andrew Dykstra (Time wasting, 72′)
Joseph Greenspan (Persistent Infringement, 86′)
Joseph Greenspan (Unsporting Behavior, 90’+1′, Red card)

 


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  • Michael Clark

    Rarely am I one to comment on officiating, but did this match seem unusually off-balance as a result? The atmosphere was noticeably tame until the very last ten minutes. All the flopping (both teams), delays and head-scratching penalty calls really seemed to hold things back.

    At some point, I’d like the players to man-up and play futbol and not try to eek out a penalty every time an opponent gets in the mix. It’s maddening to watch. I love Ibson and wear his jersey, but he’s getting a little over the top and it can’t be helping his focus.