Loan Goal from Darwin Quintero Nabs All Three for MNUFC
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- After having its 11-game unbeaten streak snapped by FC Dallas on Saturday, Minnesota United rebounded with a thrilling 1-0 win over the visiting Colorado Rapids in front of a raucous Allianz Field crowd. With no shortage of attacking chances, a Darwin Quintero goal in the 39th minute held as the game-winning goal for Minnesota United after another clean sheet and a solid defensive performance. The victory marked the Loons 12th MLS win of the season and pushed them over the 40-point mark, both firsts in club history.
"The crowd were magnificent again," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "They've been unbelievable since we've opened this place. I always talk to the players before the game about, we need to keep the crowd, the supporters involved in the game. The way that we do that is by playing on the front foot, playing in their half, working the goalkeeper, getting the ball in the box, endeavor, running forward. When you look back at the game and the chances that we've had, that should not have been the case. We've defended really well, in it as a group and there's one or two of the defenders who were outstanding."
The Loons wasted no time in shrugging off the disappointing 5-3 loss that came at the hands of Dallas. An early diagonal run from Darwin Quintero in the first minute of the game opened a pocket of space for the midfielder. Quintero performed a lovely pirouette turn and rolled a well-weighted pass to the cutting Kevin Molino. Twisting and turning his body, Molino attempted to cross the ball but couldn't muster enough power on the ball as his attempted cross flew into the hands of Colorado's goalkeeper, Clint Irwin.
The early foray from the Minnesota United attack set a precedent for the one-way traffic that was to come as the Loons continually attacked on the front foot and Colorado sat back in a defensive shape. Applying more offensive pressure, the home side earned a pair of corner kicks in the 17th and 18th minute. First, an Ike Opara header was deflected over the Colorado crossbar and then a Michael Boxall header was cleared off the line by Colorado's Kei Kamara.
Emboldened by the early chances, Minnesota's attacking quartet of Angelo Rodriguez, Darwin Quintero, Robin Lod and Kevin Molino, which had looked so fluid and creative against the Portland Timbers, began to carve out chance after chance for the home side.
The creative play of Minnesota's attackers allowed some of their fellow Loons to get involved going forward. Jan Gregus, who sat just behind Quintero, had the green light throughout the first half as he peppered Clint Irwin's goal with a multitude of shots from distance. Both of Minnesota's fullbacks, Chase Gasper and Romain Metanire, also got in on the act, looking to exploit the flanks of the Rapids, who looked very vulnerable out wide.
The Loons first capitalized on Colorado's vulnerabilities in the 36th minute when Chase Gasper made an impressive interception on an attempted pass from Kei Kamara. As Gasper began to dribble forwards, he spotted the run of Angelo Rodriguez and sent a curling through ball behind the Colorado defense. Latching onto the ball, Rodriguez recognized that the fullback had continued his run and whipped a dangerous cross into the Colorado penalty area looking for the head of Gasper. Attempting to get on the end of the ball, Gasper was awarded a penalty kick as the referee ruled that he had been fouled as he went for the cross.
As he had done so just one week ago against the Portland Timbers, Darwin Quintero stepped up to the spot looking to open the scoring for the Loons. Unfortunately, Quintero's spot kick was denied by Clint Irwin as the midfielder didn't seem to catch the ball with enough power.
In the next passage of play in the 39th minute, Quintero made amends for his missed penalty kick. Kevin Molino spotted the run of Quintero and rolled a through ball into the path of the Colombian, who held his run just long enough to remain onside. Making no mistake this time, Quintero calmly slotted the ball between the legs of Clint Irwin to open the scoring for Minnesota United. The opening goal took the sides into the break with the Loons holding a 1-0 lead.
As they so often do, Minnesota United came out of the locker room hungry for more. Rodriguez should have doubled Minnesota's lead when he found himself unmarked seven yards from the Colorado goal in the 49th minute. Kevin Molino picked out the head of Rodriguez with an early cross but the Colombian was unable to steer his effort on target as his attempt flew harmlessly out of play.
Against the run of play, the Rapids came inches from equalizing in the 50th minute when they almost executed on one of their strengths - set pieces. Colorado's Diego Rubio was left unmarked on a corner kick and a flicked header was almost bundled home by the midfielder.
Looking increasingly dangerous from set pieces, the Rapids threatened again in the 65th minute when a corner kick - cleared by Minnesota - fell to the feet of a trailing Sam Nicholson. The former Minnesota United midfielder took the ball in stride and sent a driven shot which flashed just wide of Mannone's goal to preserve Minnesota's slim 1-0 lead.
Looking to stop the Rapids from gaining a foothold in the game, Adrian Heath subbed on the duo of Abu Danladi and Ethan Finlay in the 71st minute. Heath has often chosen to bring on his pacey attackers to inject energy into games where the momentum seems to be shifting towards the opposing team.
Just seven minutes later, a chance did indeed present itself to Abu Danladi when Jan Gregus' left-footed cross found the forward's head on Colorado's back post. With the ball coming in at an awkward height, Danladi couldn't make a great connection on his header and his effort glanced agonizingly off the Colorado crossbar and out of play.
"He got in the right spots," said Heath when asked about Danladi's performance. "When your confidence is a bit low, he's not as confident in himself and his body as he would like, but I tell you, the kid got in the right spot so if he continues to get in the right spots, eventually one will go for him and hopefully his confidence will come."
The Loons continued to threaten in the final 10 minutes of play as they looked to score the second goal that had eluded them all night. Ike Opara saw his header from a Jan Gregus corner kick parried out of play by Clint Irwin in the 84th minute. This time, Osvaldo Alonso checked in for a short corner kick which caught the Rapids off guard. Alonso passed off to Gregus who swung in a right-footed cross that found its way into the Colorado net via a Robin Lod redirection. Wheeling away in celebration, Lod was convinced that he had scored his first Minnesota United goal but the strike was chalked off as the Finnish midfielder was ruled offside.
After 90 rugged minutes of play and four minutes of stoppage time, the referee's whistle brought the game to a close. Darwin Quintero's first half goal was all that the Loons needed on the night to secure another important three points in a tight Western Conference playoff race.
"We've put ourselves in a good spot," said Heath. "We're at that stage of the season now. Whoever you play, there's something to play for. I look at our fixtures and everybody's playing for something. Next week we go to Sporting. Huge for them, they need to keep it alive. We're getting no easy games between now and the end of the season, that's for sure. We've got to be prepared."
The Loons are back in action this Saturday, August 17 as Orlando City SC makes its first visit to Allianz Field in a game presented by Allina Heath. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North+, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Vito Mannone; D Romain Metannire, Ike Opara, Michael Boxall, Chase Gasper; M Jan Gergus, Osvaldo Alonso, Kevin Molino (Ethan Finlay 71'), Robin Lod, Darwin Quintero (Hassani Dotson 79'); F Angelo Rodriguez (Abu Danladi 71')
MIN Unused Subs: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Brent Kallman; M Lawrence Olum, Miguel Ibarra
Colorado Rapids Starting XI: GK Clint Irwin; D Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar, Sam Vines, Tommy Smith; M Danny Wilson (Andre Shinyashiki 80'), Diego Rubio (Nicolas Mezquida 67'), Jonathan Lewis, Kellyn Acosta, Sam Nicholson; F Kei Kamara
COL Unused Subs: GK Andre Rawls; D Kofi Opare, Sebastian Anderson; M Cole Bassett, Dillon Serna
39' - Quintero (Molino) - MIN
45' - Acosta (YC) - COL
60' - Gasper (YC) - MIN
83' - Boxall (YC) - MIN
MINNESOTA UNITED QUOTE SHEET
MINNESOTA UNITED HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH
On whether Allianz Field is beginning to feel like a fortress...
"Yeah, it does. The crowd were magnificent again. They've been unbelievable since we've opened this place. The players have given them something. I always talk to the players before the game about, we need to keep the crowd, the supporters involved in the game. The way that we do that is by playing on the front foot, playing in their half, working the goalkeeper, getting the ball in the box, endeavor, running forward. And some of that was there tonight. When you're hanging on at 1-0, 1-0 is never enough. When you look back at the game and the chances that we've had, that should not have been the case. We've defended really well, in it as a group and there's one or two of the defenders who were outstanding. But in general, you can't leave teams hanging around and with the quality of chances that we've created this evening, the game should have been hung and dried."
On whether there was a danger of a letdown after the Semifinal against Portland...
"We spoke about it before the game: generating our own atmosphere and playing on the front foot, playing in their half, start quickly. We were mindful of the fact that they had a big game on Saturday against San Jose, who make you work hard, then the travel. Eight of our players should have been fresh. As I just said to the players, I thought for some strange reason, we weren't as sharp as I would have liked considering that eight of the guys have had a little bit of time off."
On whether the team feels any pressure from the playoff race...
"We can only do what we can do. Control the controllables? We can control our performance next Saturday against Orlando. Get three points there, 44, I think it'd look a bit more healthy. We've put ourselves in a good spot. I spoke to you guys a week ago, telling you how important these two games were. It's gonna be important for us, looking at the results tonight. Important for Orlando. We're at that stage of the season now. Whoever you play, there's something to play for. There's maybe a couple of teams that haven't [got anything to play for]. I look at our fixtures and everybody's playing for something, even LAFC. Are they in the playoffs? For sure. Do they want to get record points? Next week we go to Sporting. Huge for them, they need to keep it alive. We're getting no easy games between now and the end of the season, that's for sure. We've got to be prepared."
On whether the game against Orlando will be personal for him...
"I think it's always personal when you play against your old club. Everybody knows my feelings about the club. I put six and a half years working every single day to make that club what it was. From nothing, arriving when people said, 'Football will never work in Orlando,' to having 62,000 there a few years later. I take a lot of pride and satisfaction in that. After that, this is my life now, here, trying to do exactly the same here. I think everybody who knows me in Orlando that I would like nothing more than to win this game at the weekend."
On if there's something between Colorado and Minnesota that leads to chippiness...
"We've had games where we've been hard done to in a few of the games. I thought they were very good tonight. I thought they kept going. They've had a couple of really good results and you can see that the confidence is coming back and a few of their influential players are playing well. I knew this game was gonna be tough for a lot of reasons, but not just Colorado. After the emotion of what we had here last time ... I said to the players, was I pleased with their performance? Not 100 percent, but I would have taken a scrappy 1-0 win before the game."
On what exactly about the performance was less than pleasing...
"I think we were too comfortable playing in front of the opposition. The bottom line is, as I said to the players, what are we trying to do here? We're trying to score a goal. To score a goal you have to get up the pitch, you have to run towards the goal. It's not enough just to keep the ball in the mid-third. People have to run without the ball, people have to run forward. If we do that, we're pretty good. When we play in our own half, we're not as good."
On how different the team is now that they're expected to win games...
"The team is unrecognizable to what we were. We know that. That's gone. We can't control what it was. What we can control is what's coming up on Saturday. What we can control is the demands that we put on this group of players. As I've said before, I don't [have] fear [for] us in this stadium against anybody. But we'll have to play better than we did tonight to win on Saturday, I know that for sure."
On Abu Danladi's performance on the evening...
"He got in the right spots. When your confidence is a bit low, he's not as confident in himself and his body as he would like, but I tell you, the kid got in the right spot so if he continues to get in the right spots, eventually one will go for him and hopefully his confidence will come. Because we're going to need him between now and the end of the season for sure."
MINNESOTA UNITED GOALKEEPER VITO MANNONE
On turning around a result after a huge win the week before...
"Yeah it was a game that we need to win and I say we took it home, in a certain way it's probably no the nicest way to win a game but sometimes you win games like this especially at home, we grind ourselves and tonight was another one. We needed to grind a result against a team that is very direct and very dirty at times but you need to send big and try to avoid any problems in conceding in set pieces. They are very direct into Kei Kamara, crosses up and down the goal, the sending was excellent. We could've take our chances a bit better and the buildup and probably in the second half we gave away too many balls, that's the only thing we need to look at and improve and this is just part of another game."
On getting clipped in the face in the second half...
"I just went for a ball in a split second that I need to get just in time before him and we go together and he kicked the ball at my face. At the moment for me is to be safe because I work for moments like this and if I don't come it's a one on one and it's an opportunity for him to score. As I said it's important I show courage, it doesn't matter if I get kicked, I'm not that beautiful."
On staying down after getting head...
"Yeah it was a kick in the face and I just needed thirty second to a minute to get up and obviously slow down the play at the same time and get a breather."
On feeling unbeatable at home...
"No, you're never unbeatable. It takes one moment to slip so we need to know that. We are quite strong, yes. Unbeatable, you need to prove it and prove it and go until the end. We have four more games at home I think and bring it on because now we're going to face the big kings as well, Orlando is one of them and then LAFC at home so big games coming up. As I will say, one step to toward our objective but many more to the next two."
On how tight the table is looking...
"We know that it's looked that way for a while now and everybody is pushing for the top spot and we are too. At the moment we are in a situation where we are second or third, you know we want to be up there. We want to be one game more one game less, one win less, you know nine to go. We have to keep going to finish in the top four and have a game at home and you know we really want to have a game at home considering our form we really want to have a game at home and push for the second stage of the playoffs."
On looking at the standings and how tight the Western Conference is...
"We know the West has been tight for a while now. Everybody is really pushing for the top spots and we are too. At the moment we are in a situation where we are in second place and we want to be up there. We have nine games to go and we need to keep going until the end. It's massive to finish in the top four and have a game at home. If you have a game at home, considering our form - we really want to have a game at home and push for the second stage of the playoffs."
On what it's like playing with Ike Opara...
"He's great. He has been good for us. He had the moment where had a couple of injuries and we missed him, but he came back strong. As I always have said the whole unit has been fantastic. Michael Boxall has been solid as a rock, Romain Metanire is now back with the team. Chase [Gasper] has been a revelation. He's a young boy who is playing every game at a high standard. That's what he needs to do, he needs to keep working. As I always say the shape is about eleven players, it's not about four or five people at the back. It's everybody, the midfield has been excellent and from the top we defend well, we shut people down and we've done an excellent job and we need to carry on."
On Darwin not scoring the penalty and scoring after the miss...
"I'm glad, for a striker like him it's good to get a goal straight after the mistake. He's been excellent from the spot so far and no keeper could stop him. I told him, if he tries a Panenka and to try and chip the keeper to do it down the middle. Because we tend to choose a side, it's difficult as a keeper standing still in the middle. But it happens, two minutes later he scores a great goal and it's great for him forget the miss straight away. I'm sure next time on a penalty he can deliver again."
On defending with the lead in front of the home crowd...
"It's great, I love to play in this stadium. Either side is fantastic, I feel like they [the crowd] are an extra man. It's an extra man in front of goal that doesn't want us to concede. It's fantastic, they want that clean sheet and they shout as much when we score. That's a brilliant connection that we have and we need to carry on like this. It's been a key factor at home that they are with us all the way, from top to bottom."
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