Adrian Heath made one change to the winning side fielded against Chicago. With Francisco Calvo suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Heath brought Tyrone Mears into the back line as the right center back in the same 3-5-2 formation. The decision was met with some consternation from Minnesota United FC fans, with Wyatt Omsberg having impressed in his appearances and being a natural center back.
The Houston Dynamo continued its tradition of rotation, starting its 17th different lineup in 17 MLS matches, as noted by Kyndra St. Aubin in the pre-match discussion.
Houston controlled possession from the first whistle, playing very direct passes through Minnesota’s lines, while the Loons looked to play on the break. Mears was booked early for fouling as he was beaten by Tomás Martinez.
Despite the attacking intent and dominance of Houston early, the first scoring chance came to the visitors. Rasmus Schuller sent a long through ball to an onside Christian Ramirez, whose shot was saved by Joe Willis.
Houston’s attacking intent and the Loon’s direct passing on the counterattack led to half-chances for both teams. The home side came close to breaking the deadlock in the 32nd minute when a reaction dive from Bobby Shuttleworth saved a point-blank header off a corner.
After another save by Shuttleworth, Senderos drew first blood in the 36th minute. A missed defensive header by Collen Warner off a corner allowed the Swiss defender an opportunity, smashing the ball into the net. After so many chances created through open play, it seemed almost fitting that the first goal for the Dynamo came through a set piece.
United continued to press forward but failed to generate a clear scoring chance before the halftime whistle. Christian Ramirez did have a look at goal from distance after a layoff from Darwin Quintero, but the forward’s shot went well high. The Loons perhaps found consolation in the failure of Houston to create clear chances as well.
Fortunes did not improve for Minnesota after the break. Houston was even more dominant in the beginning of the second half than they had been before the break. Their lead was further cemented in the 52nd minute when Senderos scored his second, again off a corner kick. The defender was left alone in the center of the six-yard box and had a simple header to double the Dynamo’s lead.
As the second half continued, United failed to create any dangerous plays, while the Dynamo continued to attack and create chances. Shuttleworth was called into action several times and proved equal to the task.
After 20 minutes into the half, it was clear Houston had adjusted to the Loons’ counterattack. Heath was unable to find a solution, however, as the Dynamo’s press and defensive shape proved equal to United’s attack.
Houston thought they’d scored in the 88th minute when Martinez put a shot off the bar. However, in stoppage time, Elis put a shot in after Ibson and Miller missed on clearing a ball sitting at the top of the six-yard box, and the Houston forward passed it into the back of the net.
The full time whistle mercifully blew, bringing the disastrous (for Minnesota) second half to an end.
Minnesota United played well enough for the first half. Set piece defense continues to be something the Loons do not do well. The 3-5-2 that Minnesota started in created a good attack and defensive solidity for the most part, but a lack of rotation meant United got tired, and Heath was unable to make effective adjustments.
Mason Toye provided fresh legs at the forward position, but Harrison Heath lent nothing to the attack in the midfield. Heath’s decision to pull the attacking Schuller off for Eric Miller while down by two goals was confusing. Kyndra St. Aubin and Callum Williams speculated that, in theory, the goal was to push Ibarra higher up the pitch to allow him to contribute to the attack. However, Ibarra’s work rate is such that, in practice, the substitution only served to remove an attacking midfielder.
Coming out of the match, Houston played very well and were deserved winners. The first half was encouraging for Minnesota. Still, the foreseeable problem of stamina after playing two games in four days for most of the players and the lack of ability to adjust from Adrian Heath is concerning and will serve to build on calls from some fans for the coach to be in danger of being sacked.
Minnesota next plays on Wednesday, July 11, in a friendly against Deportivo Saprissa in TCF Bank Stadium.
FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.