Minnesota United's Abu Danladi scores a brace against the Chicago Fire.

Minnesota United's Abu Danladi scores a brace against the Chicago Fire. Photo courtesy of Minnesota United FC.


Minnesota United Defies Odds, Defeat Fire 2-1

by on 26 August 2017

Minnesotan traveling fans were in full voice as the Loons came into Chicago looking for their first MLS road win. A brace from Abu Danladi was enough to give Minnesota its first away win of the season and handed Chicago its second consecutive home loss.

Minnesota, coming off a duo of losses to the Seattle Sounders, traveled to the cool Chicago Fire. Chicago had just lost its first home match since Sept. 10, 2016 to Toronto, and hadn’t won a game since Aug. 5 (a 4-1 destruction of New England). Minnesota was looking for its first win since July 29.

Head coach Adrian Heath must have liked what he saw in the 2-1 loss on Aug. 20, as he ran out the same starting lineup and bench personnel. Danladi led the attack flanked by Sam Nicholson and Ethan Finlay, with Kevin Molino in the No. 10 role.

Chicago manager Veljko Paunović made several changes to the team that lost to Toronto. He moved from a 4-3-1-2 formation to a 4-3-3. The attack was led by league newcomer Nemanja Nikolić flanked by David Accam and Luis Solignac. Djordje Mihailovic came into the midfield for Juninho as well.

Minnesota had to be hoping for better finishing from the young Danladi, and a continuation of the form Finlay showed early against Seattle, when he scored on his debut. Getting a result was a big ask for the visitors, as the Fire had been near perfect for almost a calendar year.

First half

The match began with the home Fire dominating possession. Nikolić and company made several probing attacks to no avail, but Minnesota was unable to generate any kind of offensive presence. The first moment of danger came when Bastian Schweinsteiger was sent through and crossed for Nikolić. The striker’s ball was blocked, however, as the attack continued.

From the first, it was clear that Minnesota’s plan was to defend and try to play long balls to Danladi, Nicholson, and Finlay in hopes of springing a counterattack. The Loons failed to control the ball as it moved forward, and were unable to complete passes into the final third.

With 10 minutes left, Minnesota caught a break. Molino split Chicago’s defense with a long ball to Finlay, who latched onto the pass. He attempted to cross for Danladi, but collected the blocked pass and this time found the striker. Danladi, shaking the demons of last week, side-footed the ball into the top of the net to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

Chicago pressed forward to find an equalizer, quickly earning a corner, but the Loons held strong. Minnesota, finding their swagger, pressed forward and doubled its lead. Another through-ball found Jérôme Thiesson, which led to a cross that Danladi just got a foot on, to deflect it past the keeper and into the net.

Second half

Chicago predictably came out with fire (pun intended) and pressured heavily to score. David Accam put a curling shot just wide in the 50th minute as the barrage on Minnesota’s goal continued.

Despite the consistent pressure, Chicago failed to generate truly dangerous chances or even shots on goal. Minnesota’s defensive structure held firm against the home side. As Chicago continued to push, Minnesota was able to find more space to build attacks. Abu Danladi came close to completing his hat trick with a curling effort that went just wide.

The Fire, feeling the heat (pun intended) grew more aggressive. Dax McCarty earned a booking for a cynical foul away from the ball. By the 75th minute, Minnesota was generating the majority of the offense with Chicago looking to play on the break. Some frantic defending was needed, including a diving header from Brent Kallman.

In the 77th minute, the home team broke through. Accam latched on to a long ball. Michael Boxall didn’t close down fast enough, and Accam curled a shot around Bobby Shuttleworth. The goal gave the Men in Red new life as they pressed to find an equalizer.

In the 83rd minute, Schweinsteiger was cautioned after tossing a ball into Thiesson’s back. Heath brought Jermaine Taylor on for Molino with moments left in an effort to close out the game. Immediately after, Michael de Leeuw chested a cross to himself and attempted a bicycle kick, but the shot was wide.

Fans of both teams were on the edge of their seats as the fourth official signaled a minimum of four minutes of stoppage time. Chicago pushed forward, but Minnesota held. In the final moment of the game, Finlay battled Dax McCarty for the ball along the touchline, letting out a shout as he was awarded a free kick.

The Dark Clouds, True North Elite, and other away fans stayed long after the whistle to celebrate Minnesota’s victory, and the players joined them in the corner. Several players, including Shuttleworth, handed the fans their kits.

FiftyFive.One three stars

Match statistics

Chicago Fire 1 – Minnesota United 2
Stadium: Toyota Park
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (CDT)
Weather: 70°, Partly Cloudy

Scoring Summary
Abu Danladi (36’, 45’)
David Accam (77’)

Dax McCarty (69’, Unsporting Behavior)
Abu Danladi (78’, Unsporting Behavior)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (84’, Unsporting Behavior)

Match ratings

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