Minnesota United FC featured a starting XI that would look very familiar to last year’s squad. Only two players started against western conference rival San Jose Earthquakes who were not on the team last year.
Matt Lampson, acquired by trade from Chicago Fire during Minnesota United’s busy draft day, earned the start in goal over last season’s no. 1, Bobby Shuttleworth. The defensive line featured Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo in the center, newcomer Tyrone Mears out right, with fan-favorite Jérôme Thiessen on the left. Ibson and Rasmus Schüller were tasked with patrolling the middle, while 2017 midseason acquisitions Ethan Finlay and Sam Nicholson were on the right and left respectively.
Christian Ramirez again started the season on the bench, with second year player Abu Danladi starting up top with Kevin Molino underneath.
What a difference a year makes. Minnesota United came out organized and ready to press, creating chances with long balls out wide to Finlay and Mears. Finlay would have the best chance on a great through ball that San Jose goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell had to come out and clear.
There were still cracks in the defensive share in Minnesota’s third of the field, and it was a matter of time before San Jose was able to exploit them. After a yellow card given to Mears for time wasting, Minnesota was caught out of position. Vako had time and space on the right and his centering pass found Danny Hoesen whose shot beat Lampson in the corner.
The fans in San Jose were still celebrating when the home side struck again. Boxall turned the ball over deep in the left corner after the restart, and Chris Wondolowski’s cross was dummied by Hoesen before Vako put it into the back of the net.
A very promising start undone by a couple minutes of lack of concentration, a theme seen last year and still clearly a problem this year.
After the second goal, Ramirez came in to replace a limping Danladi, but Minnesota could not provide service on goal and the half ended 2-0.
An early goal in the second half could have changed the makeup of the game, but instead Hoesen would extend the lead to three. His right footed strike came at the end of nearly two minutes of San Jose possession. For the Minnesota fans watching at home or in San Jose, they had to wonder if this game would be a repeat of last season’s 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Portland.
Instead, Minnesota settled their play down and worked hard to prevent more San Jose chances on goal.
Finally, Minnesota got their first goal of the 2018 season. A long pass to Ramirez was knocked down into the path of Molino, who one timed it into the back of the net. Ramirez’s awareness of the field and ability to play with his back to goal allowed him to take the long cross from Thiesson and find an open Molino.
Minutes later, Molino would strike again. Schüller threaded a pass through two defenders and Molino turned and beat Tarbell again to the right corner of the net.
Minnesota put forth a furious charge for the rest of the game to try to level it at three and steal a point, but deep defending by San Jose prevented it and the Loons left California with nothing to show for their late game fireworks.
— FiftyFiveOne (@FiftyFiveOne) March 4, 2018
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