Mannone's Decisive Penalty Kick Save Elevates Loon over Dallas
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - In a heavyweight clash between two Western Conference foes that could have major playoff implications come October, Minnesota United grinded out a resolute, hard-nosed 1-0 win over visiting FC Dallas. A game that was filled with gritty challenges and few clear-cut chances saw the Loons win in dramatic fashion. A Mason Toye stoppage time goal and a Vito Mannone penalty kick save minutes later served up all three points for the Loons - propelling them into third place in the Western Conference for the time being.
"[I'm] so proud of the players," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "They were running on empty today. I spoke to my staff yesterday after training and I was really worried about the game because the group looked really flat. We've tried everything to get them going and it was a difficult afternoon for us. You could tell [FC Dallas] had had a week off. They came out nice and lively and sharp, as we expected, but I thought our resolve and determination not to lose the game was immense."
In what was a cagey first half, FC Dallas came out with clear attacking intent, deploying a 4-3-3 with a diamond in midfield - which turned into a 4-2-3-1 while on defense. They looked to position their wingers, Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera, high and wide early.
The Loons looked to counteract the attacking positioning of FC Dallas through their own 4-2-3-1 with Ethan Finlay and Kevin Molino dropping deeper on either side of the field to support Minnesota's fullbacks Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper. Up top, Darwin Quintero sat directly underneath Angelo Rodriguez and looked to move between the FC Dallas defensive and midfield lines to receive passes at his feet. In a Minnesota offense that is often fueled by crosses, Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper - two players who have been crucial in providing service into the penalty area - were forced to stay at home and keep track of Dallas' dangerously positioned wingers. While not a force on offense, Gasper and Dotson valiantly defended, stifling Barrios and Mosquera in one-on-one situations, time and time again.
"Incredible performance from a lot of people," said Heath. "I've got to single out the two kids, the fullbacks. I've never seen anyone play [Michael] Barrios as well as Chase Gasper's done today. Because of our energy levels, there was a lot of one-v-ones. Can't really remember Barrios getting by him, so it's an incredible performance. Ike's not been 100 percent for a couple of days, so it's a huge win for us, it really is."
While the first 25 minutes of the game were without quality finishes, both sides trades opportunities to take the lead. In the sixth minute, Darwin Quintero came close to scoring an early goal - just as he did a week earlier against San Jose at Allianz Field. Ethan Finlay's driven cross hit the back of an unsuspecting Quintero and squirted back to the midfielder who had continued his run. Showing off his vision and composure, Finlay then squared to an open Quintero who fired a quick shot that was blocked off the line by FC Dallas. Then, in the 20th minute FC Dallas' Michael Barrios was played through on goal by forward Dominique Badji, who had drifted out wide. Vito Mannone, who spotted the danger early, rushed off his line to tip Barrios' chipped effort just over the MNUFC goal to keep the sides level.
Interchangeably playing on the left and right side of midfield, Ethan Finlay had two golden opportunities in the latter stages of the first half to give the home side the lead. In the 28th minute, Kevin Molino executed a lovely lofted ball over the top of the FC Dallas defense that fell right at the feet of Finlay. With a San Jose defender breathing down his neck, Finlay attempted to hit the bouncing ball first-time but the scuffed shot didn't have enough power to beat goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez who snatched up the shot. Just eight minutes later, Chase Gasper - making a rare attacking foray in the first half - found himself in space out wide and sent a cross that deflected to the FC Dallas back post. An unmarked Finlay took the ball out of the sky on a left-footed volley that went into the side netting of the goal, causing an eruption around Allianz Field as the ball looked like it had beaten Gonzalez.
Both sides traded blows in the remaining ten minutes of the half but neither could find the decisive breakthrough. With Dallas threatening down the flanks and the Loons generating offense through Ethan Finlay, the first half came to an end, deadlocked at 0-0.
"We actually had a couple of good chances first half," said Heath. "I was worried. I said to the staff the first goal either way will win the game. We worked hard to try and get the guys going again at halftime."
Just five minutes into the second half, Barrios - who was a threat for the visitors all night - cut inside from the wing, skipped past Chase Gasper and Michael Boxall and into the MNUFC penalty area. A last second buccaneering tackle from Hassani Dotson - which garnered a roar from the Allianz Field crowd - denied the winger a shot and saved a certain goal.
Chances in the second half came few and far between for both sides as the fatigue from a busy July schedule seemingly began to set in for the Loons. Playing in their fifth game in just 15 days, FC Dallas pinned Minnesota back in their own half for much of the second period of play. Looking to change the tide of the game, Heath subbed on fresh legs in the form of Miguel Ibarra and Mason Toye to replace Kevin Molino and Angelo Rodriguez in the 65th minute.
With both sides searching for a goal in the last 20 minutes of the game, play became stretched and the fluidity of the game was lost. Dangerous attacking play was scarce until the 86th minute when FC Dallas came a deflection away from taking the lead. Throughout the game, the visitors sent long diagonal passes to their advanced wingers and it almost paid dividends when Michael Barrios received one of these balls, beat Hassani Dotson to the touchline and drilled in a low, hard cross. The driven ball banged against the outstretched leg of defender Ike Opara and careened into the side-netting - fortunately for Vito Mannone, who was wrongfooted in goal.
With just minutes to play, the Loons knew that they had to expend the remainder of their energy to take three points in such a crucial game. With the Wonderwall roaring, the Loons won a corner kick in the 87th minute, which gave the home side a much-needed spell of possession. In stoppage time, with the tables turned and FC Dallas pinned in their own half, Jan Gregus found space in the midfield. The Slovakian dribbled right at the FC Dallas goal, feinted past one player and ripped an arrowing shot. The strike proved too hot to handle for JGonzalez, who spilled the ball to his right allowing second half substitute Mason Toye to pounce on the loose ball and fire home. Toye's goal provided a long-awaited breakthrough but the game wasn't over yet.
FC Dallas - who was determined to make the Loons work for all three points - piled all their men forward in the dying embers of the game. Deep into stoppage time, a miscommunication between Chase Gasper and Vito Mannone led to a controversial foul on FC Dallas' Bryan Reynolds by the MNUFC goalkeeper. The referee had to turn to video review to officially rule the incident a foul. With every fan in Allianz Field on their feet, Mannone stood up to the task and denied FC Dallas' captain Reto Ziegler from the spot. The save produced a roar that could be heard throughout the Twin Cities for an immense 1-0 win from the Loons.
"I think it's the biggest win I've had since I've been here, for what it means to everybody," said Heath. "You saw the reaction of the players, you saw the reaction of the supporters. I've got to mention the crowd because I think they got us over the line today and I've never heard the stadium as loud as this, ever. The last five minutes and then when Vito makes the save, incredible."
Minnesota United's next game is back at Allianz Field on Wednesday, July 17 at 7:00 p.m. as newly-promoted English Premier League side Aston Villa is in town for a friendly which can be directly streamed on mnufc.com. The Loons then return to MLS action next Saturday, July 20 at 9:00 p.m. CT as they travel to Utah for another important Western Conference fixture against Real Salt Lake. Pregame coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. CT 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 Chase Gasper, Ike Opara, Michael Boxall, Chase Gasper; M Jan Gregus, Osvaldo Alonso (Lawrence Olum 72'), Ethan Finlay, Kevin Molino (Miguel Ibarra 66'), Darwin Quintero; F Angelo Rodriguez (Mason Toye 67')
MIN Unused Subs: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Brent Kallman, Eric Miller; M Rasmus Schuller
FC Dallas Starting XI: GK Jesse Gonzalez; D Matt Hedges, Reggie Cannon, Reto Ziegler, Ryan Hollingshead; M Brandon Servania (Bryan Reynolds 90+2'), Bryan Acosta, Michael Barrios, Paxton Pomykal, Santiago Mosquera (Jesus Ferreira 67'); F Dominique Badji (Edwin Gyasi 76')
FCD Unused Subs: GK Jimmy Maurer; D Bressan; M Edwin Cerrillo, Jacori Hayes
90+1' - Toye - MIN
35' - Servania (YC) - FCD
45+2' - Acosta (YC) - FCD
59' - Gasper (YC) - MIN
80' - Toye (YC) - MIN
90+5' - Gonzalez (YC) - FCD
MINNESOTA UNITED QUOTES SHEET
HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH
On his blood pressure at the moment ...
"I'm glad I'm not under the doctor at this moment. Don't think it'd be too good. But so proud of the players. They were running on empty today. I spoke to my staff yesterday after training and I was really worried about the game because the group looked really flat. We've tried everything to get them going and it was a difficult afternoon for us. You could tell [FC Dallas] had had a week off. They come out, they were nice and lively and sharp, as we expected, but I thought our resolve and determination not to lose the game was immense. I'e got to mention the crowd because I think they got us over the line today and I've never heard the stadium as loud as this, ever. The last five minutes and then when Vito makes the save, incredible.
Incredible performance from a lot of people. I've got to single out the two kids, the fullbacks. I've never seen anyone play [Michael] Barrios as well as Chase Gasper's done today. Because of our energy levels, there was a lot of one-v-ones. Can't really remember Barrios getting by him, so it's an incredible performance. Ike's not been 100 percent for a couple of days, so it's a huge win for us, it really is."
On whether Mason Toye's recent performances are starting to give him selection problems ...
"Mason is starting to do the things that we know he's capable of and as I said before, it's only the beginning for him, his career's just starting. He's got to remember why he's getting the rewards. You've heard me say it before: I'm a huge believer that you get out of not only life, but football what you put in. And he's getting the rewards for 18 months of every afternoon wanting to work, wanting to get better, watching video, moving home so he'd be closer to the training ground. All these little things, they add up and that's why he's got his reward today. I'm really proud of him and really pleased for him."
On Vito Mannone's penalty save ...
"The irony is that we were telling him it was going to the other corner, so good job he didn't listen to us. It's a gamechanger, isn't it? I couldn't see from where I was whether it was a foul. But they give it and, to be fair, it was a great save as well, because he's a really good penalty taker, [Reto] Ziegler. Maybe we got a little bit of a reward tonight because they'll probably feel hard done by not taking anything out of the game, and I understand that. But for my players, I've got nothing but praise and I'm really proud of them."
On Osvaldo Alonso's health ...
"We think he's okay. We don't think there's a fracture. Sore, he'll have an MRI tomorrow [on his shoulder]. But the doctors are hopeful, very confident that it's not broken."
On Ike Opara's health ...
"He's had a bit of an illness. A bug he picked or something he picked up. But up until this morning, we were not 100 percent he was going to play."
On the magnitude of this win ...
"I think it's the biggest win I've had since I've been here, for what it means to everybody. You saw the reaction of the players, you saw the reaction of the supporters. This is seven games in 22 days, incredible effort from the boys. And I know how tired they are, so I'll give them two or three days off and we'll see what we can do on Wednesday night. I will give everybody who's not playing minutes will play on Wednesday. We need to give some of these guys a rest. Especially a few of the younger ones."
On what he said at halftime to try and push for a result in a 0-0 game ...
"We actually had a couple of good chances first half. I was worried. I said to the staff the first goal either way will win the game. We worked hard to try and get the guys going again at halftime. But they showed great belief and had it been 1-1, I'd have been as proud of them as I am now even with one point, because I know how tired they are and how much effort they put in."
On how the team is regarded now in MLS ...
"Well, MLS might mention us now and again. I keep looking at the rankings and there's teams below us in the league with less wins ... I don't know. Maybe we better tell them, send them a ticket, show them where we are. That'd be nice, I think. Although, there is three experts at MLS dot com last time I looked."
On the win streak at home ...
"Good performances, great team spirit, energy, taking chances when they came. It's been an accumulation of a lot of things but mainly hard work and belief in what they're trying to do."
On where Romain Metanire's return leaves Hassani Dotson ...
"It will leave Hassani with a great career ahead of him, I think. So we'll make that decision when it comes. I think we're all fully aware what Romain's given us since he's been here."
On what it means to a goalkeeper to make that stop on a penalty kick ...
"Never been a keeper, being my size, but I'm sure, looking at the reaction that Vito's gotten, he's really pleased. He was really angry - he didn't think it was a penalty. He thinks it was only just that he saved it."
On whether the words between MNUFC players and Dallas players threatened to let the game get out of hand ...
"It's the game. I'm sure that we've all had ... I know I've had plenty of them in my career. When it gets chippy, sometimes I think it helps us. You actually start to stand up and you don't feel tired. You want to get one over on the guy you're playing against. It becomes a very personal battle. Great afternoon, great day for us, great for the lads again. Onwards and upwards."
MINNESOTA UNITED FORWARD MASON TOYE
On referencing film for the goal...
"No I mean it's just more makeshift stuff being a forward, stuff that coaches have been telling me since I was little, my dad especially, just being locked in and staying on my toes and always being ready for the rebound. At Indiana that was a big thing, they called it sniffers, just going to get a rebound it's just basic stuff not really film."
On whether he was driven to score a goal in stoppage time for playoffs spot...
"Not really, not in that exact moment but any time you come on and it zero-zero, you want to come on and make an impact as a striker. I just try to stay in good positions and try to take my chance with the keeper."
On where this goal ranks in the last six goals scored...
"It's definitely a top one right now. This was a really big win for us, the guys were obviously pretty tired out there, and we've been playing a lot of games lately so for me to be able to score a goal and to get the game winner is a huge win in itself."
On if getting the rebound a bored man gets paid moment...
"Kind of yeah. It's just any way you can get the ball in the goal if it's off a rebound, if its off your knee or if it's a nice ball put in the corner it doesn't really matter because at the end of the day when people read the papers they see that you scored and we won. It doesn't really matter how it goes in it just goes in."
On Dallas defense keeping Minnesota offense in check...
"I don't know how much it was they were doing things well, I think we weren't playing the greatest and obviously it's because we are playing so many games and the guys are pretty tired so I think it was more us just being tired and we weren't playing the game the right way. Obviously they're a good side, they're doing really well this year so yeah I think we're just tired."
On coming on to stretch the field...
"It was just come on. Adrian has said it to me every single time I've came on here running behind and try to stretch them so yeah I was trying to do that but I just realized I just needed to go in and play my game and just take what the game gives me."
On reaction to Vito's save...
"For some reason I knew he was going to save it. I believe in that dude, he's the guy that got me going when I scored my first one when I came on. I think it was at a water break against Houston, he told me hey go get one I believe in you. Ever since then I've been on a roll and I just believed in him too, yeah I was so happy he got the save but then I was right back to getting locked in because we still had to finish the game."
On getting a gritty win after so many games in a week...
"You know it just shows again that we have a really resilient group and that this is the best team so far that Minnesota United has had and this is one of the reasons we've been able to find out wins and grind out wins especially at home in front of this great crowd. It was unbelievable at the end of the game after he saved it, I couldn't hear anything it was so loud. I think it's shown what kind of group of guys were are, we'll keep going and fighting and trying to get wins."
On the crowd coming alive in the last few minutes...
"Yeah it always gives you a boost obviously there's two-three minutes left so you're just running around trying to finish off the game. I think it gave us a little boost in the last couple minutes but overall throughout the game they were really loud, they're always giving us more energy."
On noticing the call of the P.A. announcer and the crowd with your last name after scoring ...
"No I'm always focused, you're lying if you say you don't hear it. It's pretty cool but you know my focus is just being on working hard and I'm in the right spots and help us finish off the win."
On what has taken to get him to this point now...
"I think it's a mixture of all that, I think its keeping your head down and working hard and just staying patient. I was pretty impatient last year I was just thinking why it isn't happening why it isn't going my way. I just realized I just need to be patient and what I'm doing and if I'm doing the right stuff and just wait for my opportunity to come and just being confident in myself, staying patient, staying humble and just keep going and keep believing in yourself."
MINNESOTA UNITED GOALKEEPER VITO MANNONE
On the coaching staff suggesting to go to the other corner for the penalty kick and if he was cognizant of that when he was lining up ...
"Well, I studied him a long time for two days. Was the main guy to take the penalties. He took some different ones, and we studied with the goalie coach. His run up was telling me something different from what I saw in the video. And I waited, waited, waited until the end because sometimes they still going across me. So, I nail the corner as usually the last two or three over there. But his run up and I think the change, from what I saw, it was quite long and on an angle. When he approached the ball, I thought he couldn't put it on this side anymore, and I thought, let me try and guess over there. And then you have to make a reaction save, and thankfully, it went well. Because I never thought it was a penalty honestly, in the first place."
On if he has seen replay on the penalty call yet ...
"Yeah. Yeah, I've seen it. Unfortunately, I'm calling for this ball to kill the game and Chase [Gasper] didn't hear me. I was coming, I was screaming and obviously the crowd was loud. He had the touch, and once I'm there, I'm trying to stand still. And he's going away from the goal, he's going wide, he's not even going through the ball and I thought, with his run he came into me, but. Anyway, he gave it. So, he thought I went for the ball, but once I was there I tried to stop myself and he kind of ran into me to change direction when he took the ball back. What is done is done. Today is a happy day for the team. What can I say? We've done brilliant this game. We kept solid. Dallas is a good team. It's a team that will put you under pressure. And I thought we did well defending-wise and took a couple chances. Not many but it was not a day where the game was very fluid. As I said, I thought we done brilliant to stay in the game. Sometimes you win these kinds of dirty games, in this manner, and they are the best wins."
On where this ranks in terms of saves in his career ...
"Well, it's up there because it's, you know, it happened a couple of times to save a penalty in the last few minutes. And it was just, you know, makes your performance better and then makes the team performance a great performance because, you know, it was a clean sheet - the sixth one - and I was waiting for this for a long time, to find a club record clean sheet. It's good for everybody for the confidence. Seven wins in a row. What can I say? Keep working hard and keep believing, because we can go a long way."
On holding his focus for 90 minutes and making such a big save in the last minute of the game ...
"It's tough. It's tough. Because they had a few chances, they had a few shots from distance. The ball was moving lots tonight and you have to keep your focus. But, as I said, we maintain ourselves in the game, we stay in the game all the time. It was a game to win in this way. We needed the fans to push us all the way and they did. In these moments, I can give something back to the team that helped me every time. You know, the coaching staff, the fans and the club. That's why I do my job, really. To live this moment and enjoy and try to help my teammates."
On what makes dirty wins the best ...
"Nothing, is a grind. We work hard during the week. It's been a very tough few games. With the [U.S. Open] Cup, it's been a tough schedule. Sometimes you need to keep winning and to win every game, you need to win the games like this, tonight. Where you face a side that probably was fresher than us, I guess. And I think, as I said, the effort of the guys, even if we were tired, we knew, we said it, halftime. We said it before the game. Let's give everything for this game because is massive for us. And it will take us up the table and make us believe that we can be even higher than what we are. So, I think it's all to the work and the work of the boys and we need to carry on."
On what the emotions were like in the last 10 minutes of the game with the goal and PK save ...
"Emotion goes up and down, but you need to stay cool. During the game, it happens. These kinds of events happen, so you need to react to it. As I always said in the past, a penalty is a chance for the keeper to become the hero and that's how I feel it every time. I looked at the ball and I thought, this is my moment. This is my one. And I treat it that way in the past. And you don't know every time, because sometimes it's impossible, but most of the times I'm successful in thinking that way. And that's how it went."
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