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 Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United Remain Undefeated With 1-0 Win Over St. Louis City

April 2, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Minnesota United FC News Release


ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- In the first-ever matchup between Minnesota United and St. Louis CITY SC, Minnesota defeated CITY SC 1-0, with a goal from forward Luis Amarilla, giving the Loons their third road victory and all three points.

St. Louis, coming into the game undefeated and at the top of the Western Conference, was quick on the transition throughout the first half and saw their best chance creation when Eduard Lowen found space atop Minnesota's 18-yard box, striking a right footed shot towards the bottom right corner, where goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair made the diving save.

Despite their persistence, the Loons maintained a solid, defensive run of form. MNUFC put on the pressure later in the half and were strong on the counterattack. Forward Luis Amarilla snuck a pass behind St. Louis' backline to midfielder Kervin Arriaga, who's shot was blocked by defender Kyle Hiebert.

After the half, both squads were frantic in their play, eager for the first goal of the match. The Loons were dangerous on offense with several scoring opportunities. Forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane dribbled down the center of St. Louis' defense, sending forward Mender Garcia forward in a 1v1 with goalkeeper Roman Burki, winning the battle but striking the post from the six-yard box. CITY SC created multiple scoring chances but were ultimately shut down by a unified Minnesota defense.

In the 78th minute, Luis Amarilla drew a foul in the penalty area, conceded by St. Louis' Kyle Hiebert. Amarilla took the penalty-kick attempt and scored the go-ahead goal for the Loons. The shot was the Paraguayan forwards' second goal of the season, his first also coming from the spot against the Colorado Rapids.

Towards the end of the match, St. Louis' Samuel Adeniran nearly found the scored in the 95th minute with a shot from the center of the box after turning to face St. Clair in a 1v1 scenario, but his attempt was too high and flew over the crossbar. Minnesota was able to render St. Louis scoreless after 97 minutes of play, a team that has notched 15 goals in five matches and leads league with 15 points.

Minnesota's victory is the first time the club has won its first three road games to start the season.

With the result, Minnesota United improves to a 3-0-2 (W-L-D) record with 11 points and remains as one of three undefeated teams in the league.

ATTENDANCE: 22,423

BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH: Defender Miguel Tapias

LINEUPS:

Minnesota United XI: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Kemar Lawrence, Miguel Tapias, Michael Boxall, DJ Tayor; M Franco Fragapane, Wil Trapp (c), Kervin Arriaga, Bongokuhle Hlongwane; F Luis Amarilla, Mender Garcia

Bench: GK Clint Irwin, Eric Dick; D Brent Kallman, Zarek Valentin, Mikael Marques; M Hassani Dotson, Joseph Rosales; F Emmanuel Iwe, Cameron Dunbar

St. Louis CITY XI: GK Roman Buerki (c); D Jake Nerwinski, John Nelson, Kyle Hiebert, Tim Parker; M Tomas Ostrak, Jared Stroud, Eduard Loewen, Indiana Vassilev; F Joao Klauss, Bichilas Gioacchini

Bench: GK Ben Lundt; D Njabulo Blom, Akil Watts, Lucas Bartlett; M Aziel Jackson, Miguel Parez, Isak Jensen; F Sam Adeniran

UP NEXT:

MINNESOTA UNITED FC @ CHICAGO FIRE FC

Soldier Field | Chicago, Illinois

04.08.2023 | MLS 2022 Regular Season | Matchday 7

7:30 pm CT (MLS Season Pass/1500 ESPN)

MINNESOTA UNITED POST GAME QUOTE SHEET

HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH

On getting the road against an undefeated team without Emanuel Reynoso...

"I knew it was going to be tough because you're coming into the lion's den a little bit. [St. Louis] is 5-0, the place was on fire before the game. Great atmosphere, brilliant stadium. Hats off to the people who have put it all together; the ownership. Bradley [Carnell] has done a great job putting a really good group together. They've probably shown the blueprint of being an expansion team: employed the people nice and early, gave themselves a lot of time to pick the type of players they needed for the way they want to play. They've had a great start, but for us, I was so pleased with my group tonight. We've had so much adversity this year, through one thing or another. It's been something every week. Last week it was seven, eight players not available. This week, waiting for all your players to come back. Boxy [Michael Boxall] was sick when he gets back, Bongi [Bongokuhle Hlongwane] arrives back late, nearly midnight on Thursday. When I look at the shift that some of the guys have put in, I'm so pleased for them because they've got a reward for everything that they've done."

On the key to getting the second road shutout and keeping forward Joao Kaluss at bay...

"We've conceded two or three goals in five games? Which speaks volumes, so we're doing something right. I'm sure the back four will tell you that the midfield four and the two front men are putting such an incredible shift in. But they are doing so well. When the ball went wide, I always looked in the box: people are tight, people are marking, making it difficult for people to make good runs. We've done a lot of good things today. I, fact, thought second half, there's nobody who's here didn't think we deserved the win because we were, far and away, the better team in the second half."

On handling the press from St. Louis...

"We handled it really well. I said we have to get ourselves in good spots nice and early. I thought the two fullbacks got some really good spots and picked the right time to play short, the right time to play long because the press comes and, at times, leaves themselves vulnerable, man-for-man at the back. I said to them 'if you're not sure in midfield, let's get it to the front men and go play from there.' Even in the first half, I thought we looked really dangerous on the counter-attack. As I say, we managed their press really well."

On closing out the game after not being able to last weekend...

"Seven minutes again. Is that going to be every week? I must have missed that memo. Seven minutes injury time every week. I was a little bit surprised at that but we managed to see it through this week."

On getting the team fired up ahead of this matchup...

"We always have to do that. I'd love to know what the column inches are, dedicated to Minnesota United compared to any other team in the league. We get continually wrote off and I like it for the players because, as I always say, there's nothing better as a player than proving people wrong and we've gone and done it again today. Nobody gave us a chance, which I quite liked because I knew that gave me a little bit of ammunition to stir the guys up with before and we've gone and done it again. This is not luck, we are better than people think."

On Luis Amarilla scoring on the penalty kick...

"Like all strikers, you have these spells where you're fighting a little bit. I thought he made some really good runs in the first half that didn't quite find him and then a couple times, his first touch let him down a little bit. He's working so hard. As I said to you, the one thing I do know about the two front men, their output, their miles-distance covered, their high-speed running, is off the charts. They are helping everybody else when we're defending. They'll get their rewards and that's what he did, they got their rewards for the penalty."

On moving past the adversity of last week and the response...

"Yeah, I am. The thing is, as most of the guys here who know me better than most, my glass is always half full. I'm optimistic. I believe in the group that we have so that makes me optimistic. I know how hard they work at training. We have enough bulletin board material every week and it's my job to motivate the guys and, me and my staff, I think we do a good job of that. They were ready to play again. Another huge game on the road next week, but we'll be ready for it."

On winning without Robin Lod and Emanuel Reynoso...

"I would like to say 'yeah, I've sorted it out, I know what's right and what's wrong,' but no. I would like to have them two back if I could. But the rest of the guys have stepped up incredibly well and the atmosphere within the group, in the dressing room now is as good as we've ever had it. They're very together, they want to do well for each other and they're a great group to be around at the moment."

On what makes Luis Amarills good at taking penalty kicks...

"Confidence. You've got to have confidence because more and more players are missing now, goalkeepers are bigger, more information. They probably know every penalty Luis [Amarilla] has taken now, there's so much information out there. It's so important they don't double guess themselves, stay confident and be positive in what they're going to do. The minute you start...the keeper is doing that, I should do that. At the moment, Luis is confident with his penalties."

On if he was pleased with the activity from the attacking group, despite no goals in the run of play...

"Yeah, I was. I thought we had a moment, especially in the second half, the front four were excellent. The two wide guys were coming into the pockets at the right time, we got the fullbacks high. I thought the two [strikers] combined a bit more, better in the second half, with a little more end product, a little more final ball. Delighted. I'm sure when I look at the video over the weekend that there might be something that we can get better at but overall, as I'm sitting here now, just so pleased for the players. They got the reward for the effort they put in. Pleased for, I don't know what we had, must have been 150, 200 fans here. We could hear them in the corner of the stadium, which wasn't easy because this is a loud stadium. It's been a really good day to be the coach."

On getting three road wins, but only draws at home so far...

"We've had a close one last week. I thought the first game against New York, I don't think we could look at that one too closely. I don't think the conditions helped anybody. Last week, with what we did, to lose seven starters from the week before and you throw Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] in there, there's eight people who probably would've started last week. Let's see where we are when we've got the full complement of players playing a really good service in front of our fans. I'm sure we're going to get started hearing "Wonderwall" quite a lot more."

On his satisfaction with the team's response at kickoff and start of the second half...

"Yeah, I actually joked to the staff at halftime when we kicked off. I said 'what do you think? We're going to concede a corner?' It was a lot better. It just goes to show because we ended up with half a chance. Played it in the right area, I think Bongi [Bongokuhle Hlongwane] got a hold of the first one and then we had some momentum in their half. They sound little and they sound a bit trivial, kickoffs, but they can influence the momentum of a game, and it's something that we've spoke about."

GOALKEEPER DAYNE ST. CLAIR

On the St. Louis storyline and but getting the third road victory...

"The storyline when teams are winning is always going to be about them, especially at home. They had a great atmosphere tonight, but we always had the confidence that we could come in here and get three points. There was never a doubt in our mind that we could come in here and do that job. We had a bunch of guys away on international duty, but talking to them, we were devastated for the last minute, last second result last week, and we wanted to come in and make that right."

On adding outside of the box clearances into his playing style...

"I've had it. You probably don't get to see as much because our field at Allianz is so fast, so a lot of balls end up coming into the box. It's something I've always been prepared for, especially when I play with the [Canada Men's] National Team. We definitely play out a lot more there, so being comfortable with my feet is something that I definitely have."

On being the striker to take a penalty kick and how it feels as the goalkeeper to have the home fans behind you...

"In those moments, if I'm at home, I think back to that moment against [FC] Dallas when Vito [Mannone] was in net and how loud the crowd got for that moment. If you're the home goalie, you just want the stadium to be as loud as possible to try to throw the attacker off. From a shooter's perspective, you've got to try to zone everything out and focus in on where you're going to put the ball and try to put it in the back of the net."

On the difference in the backline only conceding three goals so far this season...

"First and foremost, we've had a really good shape and not many teams have been able to break us down. Some of the goals have been set pieces and things like that, but we've done a good job of getting a good shape behind the ball, and it's been tough for teams to break us down."

On shutting down Joao Klauss...

"Being physical with him. He has a big frame and has good hold-up play, but also the support of the outside backs. One of the last plays of the game, he has a header at the back post and D.J. [Taylor] knows that he can't win it, but he comes flying in to try and throw him off and in the end, is why the header goes wide, in my perspective. I think it was a big job as a collective. In the backline, that's something we kind of support each other and always try to be together and help guys out when they need."

On the adjustment returning from international duty to league play...

"When you're playing for a different team, especially when I play for Canada, it's a different style of play. For some guys, they have long travels but fortunately enough, I'm playing in this region for the most part, so my travel wasn't too bad. I look at guys like Boxy [Michael Boxall] and Bongi [Bongokuhle Hlongwane] who had, I think, 20 hour travel days just to get back to Minnesota. It can be a little bit difficult at times, but it's about readjusting. Each game, you've got to take the positives away from it, and the negatives, and push forward and move on and focus on the next task at hand. It can be a little bit difficult at times but it's something that we've all...none of us had our first callup, so it's something that we've always dealt with in the past."

On the locker room chemistry this season...

"There's a few more guys that speak both Spanish and English, which there can obviously be a language barrier at times, so having more of those players has been able to bring the group together, the divide between the English speakers and the Spanish speakers which is a natural divide. It's also easy to be together when you're getting the good results at the same time. This probably has been one of our best starts since I've been here at least. When the vibe is good and things are that, of course guys are going to get along better than when you're starting the season off behind."

On sharing the pitch with teammates on the international level and Clint Irwin's debut...

"From the time Clint's [Irwin] come in, he's been great. I think we definitely have a better relationship than me and Tyler [Miller] have had in the past. I had full trust that Clint could come in and do a good job. When I came back, he kind of supported me to have a good performance this week. Anytime someone gets the opportunity to play and plays well, it puts pressure on the next guy that's going to play the next game. Part of that is why I think D.J. [Taylor] and Z [Zarek Valentin] are playing so well as well because there's that pressure for the spot. They've done a good job of supporting each other and then a good job pushing each other and putting out good performances when they've been on the field. In terms of Kervin [Arriaga] and Jo [Joseph Rosales], playing against them, we're teammates and stuff like that here, but when we both put on our different jerseys, we have one job and that's to represent our country and to get results there. We [Canada Men's National Team] came out victorious, but we had a little bit of a chat about it after the game and knew that we had to come here and refocus."


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