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 Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United Wins First Home Game of 2024, Defeats LAFC 2-0

March 17, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Minnesota United FC News Release


SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota United captured its first home victory of 2024 - and notably the first win under new Head Coach Eric Ramsay - defeating the Los Angeles Football Club 2-0 on the backs of goals scored by Robin Lod and Bongokuhle Hlongwane. With the three points, the Loons stand in first place in the Western Conference with 10 points and a 3-0-1 (W-L-D) unbeaten record.

7' - LAFC's striker Denis Bouanga attempted a dangerous right-footed shot towards an empty goal, but his shot went over the crossbar.

16' - MNUFC midfielder Robin Lod scored the first goal of the match. Loons forward Sang Bin curved the ball into the box off a set piece where LAFC defender Jesús Murillo's failed clearance landed at Lod's feet, leading to him slotting the ball past LAFC's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

21' - MNUFC defender DJ Taylor was looking to extend the lead and fired a shot through LAFC's defense but was deflected by a handball outside the box to earn the Loons a freekick. Hassani Dotson took the freekick, but his shot was blocked by LAFC's wall.

42' - Defender Michael Boxall cleared LAFC's cross off a freekick, hitting the ball over the crossbar with his shin, after Eduard Atuesta tried to find defender Ryan Hollingshead inside the box.

52' - Loons' defender Miguel Tapias, alone in MNUFC'S half, tried to win the ball out of the air with two LAFC defenders on his back. Tapias fought for possession of the loose ball when LAFC midfielder Mateusz Bogusz ran onto the ball for a shot on goal. Dayne St. Clair deflects the shot off his shin, keeping the score 1-0 for the Loons.

54' - Minnesota had an easy shot on goal after Lod dribbled up the pitch laying it off to Teemu Pukki where the ball then ping-ponged between players, finding Dotson outside the 18-yard line. Unmarked, he lined up for a shot on goal which was saved by LAFC goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

74' - St. Clair saved yet another shot on goal after Bouanga made a run up the left side of the pitch, laying it off to Cristian Olivera for a shot on goal.

88' - Bongokuhle Hlongwane scored the second goal for MNUFC, capitalizing off a mistake made by LAFC. Tapias cleared the ball long up the pitch, in which the ball bounced over LAFC's backline. Hlongwane ran in behind, beating Omar Campos to the ball. Lloris off his line faced the South African one-on-one, but Hlongwane slipped the ball behind and found the back of the net to double the Loons' lead.

GOAL SUMMARY

1-0 MIN - Robin Lod, assisted by Sang Bin Jeong (16')

2-0 MIN - Bongi Hlongwane (88')

DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

LAFC - Jesús Murillo (caution), 22'

MIN - Caden Clark (caution), 32'

MIN - Tani Oluwaseyi (caution) 86'

LAFC - Eduard Atuesta (caution) 90'+3'

NOTABLE STATS

1 - Defender Devin Padelford made his first MLS start against LAFC.

32 - At 32 years and 227 days old, Head Coach Eric Ramsay became the youngest full-time head coach in MLS history to coach in a game and earn a victory.

3 - With his goal tonight, Robin Lod has three goal contributions in his last three games (2 goals, 1 assist).

4 - MNUFC is unbeaten in its first four games of the 2024 MLS regular season with a 3-0-1 (W-L-D) record.

1 - The victory against LAFC was the Loons' first win at Allianz Field in the 2024 MLS regular season and was the first win against the Black and Gold at Allianz Field in all competitions.

ATTENDANCE: 19,315

BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH: Robin Lod

LINEUPS:

Minnesota United XI: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Devin Padelford, Miguel Tapias, Michael Boxall ©; M Robin Lod, Wil Trapp, DJ Taylor, Hassani Dotson, Caden Clark; F Sang Bin Jeong, Teemu Pukki

Bench: GK Clint Irwin; D Zarek Valentin, Victor Eriksson; M Franco Fragapane, Emanuel Reynoso, Tani Oluwaseyi, Alejandro Bran, Kervin Arriaga; F Bongokuhle Hlongwane

LAFC XI: GK Hugo Lloris, D Omar Campos, Jesus Murillo, Ryan Hollingshead, Aaron Long; M Ilie Sanchez ©, Timothy Tillman, Mateusz Bogusz, Eduard Atuesta; F Cristian Olivera, Denis Bouanga

Bench: GK Abraham; D Eddie Segura, Sergi Palencia; M Erik Duenas; F Nathan Ordaz, David Martinez

NOTE TWIN CITIES MEDIA: Single-game credential requests for the St. Patrick's Athletic international friendly on Wednesday, March 20 at Allianz Field are due no later than Monday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m. CT.

UP NEXT:

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. ST. PATRICK'S ATHLETIC

Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota

03.20.2024 | Friendly

7:00 p.m. CT

MINNESOTA UNITED POST GAME QUOTE SHEET

HEAD COACH ERIC RAMSAY

On what his main takeaways in the match were...

"We looked organized, disciplined, and difficult to break down throughout the counter-attack. We showed real energy togetherness, and a spirit the team has shown up until this point which I was really reliant on the team continuing with. We want to evolve toward being a team that looks like that really consistently, where we are really difficult to break down and we are a real threat on the counterattack and I think you saw that for large portions of the game at least."

On having a compact defensive shape and limiting LAFC's chances throughout the game...

"I think we controlled him [Denis Bouanga] really well. Obviously he is a really important player for them, and that was a big part of the strategy today to make sure we didn't give him a great deal of space to work. That applies to a lot of their front players. They are undoubtedly some of the best in the league, some of the best I've seen in the games I have watched so far. I think that is testament to having a back line to see how the midfield plays were, how we were as a unit and we were able to kill the space and get him very little."

On what he will remember from tonight and having done this for his first time...

"That is difficult to look past the ending there [singing 'Wonderwall'], it is spectacular, it really is. I think it's absolutely unique. I have obviously heard an awful lot about how it feels to win a home game, and I didn't want to make too big a deal prior to that. I knew it would come eventually. I was really hopeful it would come today. I felt an element of pressure for it to come today so I am really happy that it has."

On how 'Wonderwall' in Minnesota compares to the British University championships...

"It is significantly better I would say."

On Devin Padelford making his first MLS start and the switch from their two wingers was there any information that got passed...

"Number one, I thought he played really, really well. I didn't have any doubts based on what I've seen so far that he was capable of doing what he's done today. Seems to me, a really good professional, very athletic. He's got a good margin for improvement based on those two things alone. He has just spoken in front of the group there on the back of playing his first game in Major League Soccer from the start. Speaks very well, a really mature guy and he can be an important part of the group and I am really pleased for him. As far as the information goes, no, not in particular I think just the general stuff that we worked on."

On how the Hispanic supporters made him feel tonight in his first game as head coach for Minnesota United...

[SPA]: "Absolutamente fenomenal, es casi como un sueño en ese sentido. Porque todos los aficionados hablan de la atmósfera aquí, y para mí es muy temprano en mi tiempo aquí para ganar aquí, es enorme, absolutamente enorme."

[ENG]: "It is absolutely phenomenal, it is almost like a dream come true in that sense. Mainly because all the supporters talk about the atmosphere here, and for me it is still so early in my time here to win, so this is huge, absolutely huge."

On what we can expect from this team now that he is here...

[SPA]: "Yo quiero asegurar que el equipo juegue con la misma energía y la disciplina que han hecho hasta este punto pero con una evolución tácticamente mucho más compacto pero queremos presionar como lo hemos hecho hasta este punto en la temporada."

[ENG]: "I want to make sure that the team plays with the same energy and discipline that they have been doing to this point, but with a tactful evolution that is much more compact. We also want to apply pressure the way we have been up until this point in the season."

On not having as high of a press early on in the game...

"First and foremost, we have to be compact [and] difficult to play through but always with intention to be front foot, to be aggressive and make it difficult for teams to progress. Obviously, we didn't always strike the balance well today. We have to as we mentioned over the course of the first two or three games we have to make sure we pick our moments well to press. As default we have to be a team as high pressing particularly at home we want to make it difficult for teams that come here. You don't always choose to be a team that high presses constantly in a game. The opposition often if they are very good on the ball and drop enough players deep and outside your shape, they make it impossible for you to high press. Sometimes you do have to come from the mid-block, you have to defend your box well, it's naive to think we're going to spend the entire game pressing on-top of the opposition's box, it just doesn't happen."

On the importance of the team's culture in the success of this season...

"It's fundamental, and I appreciate that I'm in the honeymoon period and generally the players are going to be responsive to me. There's going to be a good energy, there's going to be a good feel to the place. It's my responsibility to make sure that continues, that the players really feel connected to the way the team plays. That they feel as though what they're doing as part of our group is going to move them forward and that's what brings a good culture. Everyone wants to come in and everyone wants to get better. They feel that the environment that me and the staff create is one in which they can do that. I felt like this weekend we've got to make sure that continues."

On the substitutions of Emanuel Reynoso and Franco Fragapane and if they were planned...

"We wanted to make sure we had good energy in the team and that was sustained. Obviously I was reliant on the fact that Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] coming on would give the stadium some energy and would give the team a different dynamic and it did. You could really feel the energy when the combination of those two players came onto the pitch but that also applies to both Bongi [Hlongwane] and Tani [Oluwaseyi] as well. I think substitution across those front players means that you can keep up a certain intensity [and] you can play with good energy. I think to a certain extent that worked well across all the changes."

On what his emotions were during and after the game...

"During the game, I used to get asked [about] this being at Man United [Manchester United] and being on the side of the pitch at Old Trafford. You become oblivious to that stuff during the game. You're fixated on the game, the interactions between the two teams and what you can do to influence it but certainly at the end of the game it's a phenomenal moment. I can't imagine that I'll forget that at any point. It's a really special place to be and the atmosphere is everything that people said it would be."

On what he wanted to change or keep consistent going into the second half...

"I think it was the consistency of being difficult to beat. Making sure we retained a level of aggression from that compact mid-block that we worked in, that we were able to work our way up the pitch [to] build pressure, be front foot, be aggressive [and] not start to sink into the box which I think we did. I think there's always a natural tendency when you're leading a game to get closer and closer to your box. It's really difficult for a group of players not to fall into that, hence why we started to make some changes. We wanted to keep the energy up and make sure we had fresh legs and had intensity across the front players. I think that did help us toward the end of the game but certainly that was the message at halftime."

On the key points of Robin Lod's goal...

"Do you know what, I haven't seen Robin's [Lod] goal back and it's a little bit of a blurb. Obviously, we will be a team that will make a lot of noise in turn around set plays and their importance. There was a lot of purpose behind that though [it] did look messy. There was a framework around that goal so I was really pleased in that sense because it reflected some of the work that's been done on the pitch this week."

MIDFIELDER ROBIN LOD

On winning and hearing 'Wonderwall'...

"Yeah, I mean it's the best feeling to sing with the fans and it's been a while when we sing [it] the last time. As you said, last season wasn't the best at home, so I'm really pleased for the victory today."

On gaining the energy for the first time for the Head Coach Eric Ramsay...

"Yeah, it was really good. It was pretty similar to the Columbus [Crew] game as well. This time we were able to score first which was nice and get the fans behind us. The atmosphere was fantastic, so all the thanks to the fans."

On defensive principles under Eric Ramsay...

"He's bringing in his own ideas and bringing in his idea on how we defend and I think today we did really well. I don't think there were many chances LAFC could do and I think the best chances came from our own mistakes so that was good. I think we did really well."

On his goal and what they worked on in training...

"We know set pieces are part of the game and it's one thing where you can manage to score goals and win the game, so it's a high priority for us and today it worked. I think it [ the ball] came perfectly so it was kind of easy to score. I mean, if I can't score from five yards, then I have to think about something else."

On his impressions of having Eric Ramsay on the sidelines for the first time...

"He's super energetic and brings a lot of energy to the team. He's here to win and you can tell it right away and he's bringing some good structure for us for sure."

On being 3-0-1 and first place in the Western Conference...

"I think it's a really good feeling and we are trying to work really hard so we can keep ourselves there."

On internally looking at the strength of the schedule to start the year...

"We spoke about it at the start, it's tough. At the same time, I think we've been preparing really well this season and it shows that we are able to get points from these tough opponents and I think it gives us a big boost going forward."

On his first home game he's played after being injured last season...

"Personally, I have been waiting for that moment for a long time and it was kind of weird to step on the field because it felt like it's been [an] eternity when I was last playing at a home game so I am super pleased that happened."

DEFENDER MICHAEL BOXALL

On the defensive principles that Head Coach Eric Ramsay wants to see...

"It's all about us being compact, from front to back... especially teams like LAFC who want to play through the middle, they've got a lot of talented players. And if we congest that, it makes it more difficult. I think for the most part we did that well tonight. It's a bit of a challenge for us to play on the risky side, play that high line, but it's what he wants us to do. I think if we do it the right way and do it consistently, then fun things can happen for us."

On the energy and atmosphere tonight with Eric Ramsay coaching for the first time...

"It's our second game at home, I think the energy is a bit more anxious, because you want him to start off on the right foot, you want to win it for him, as opposed to just another game at home that we kind of expect to win with the energy that we have. These conditions were kind of difficult, pretty slippery on the foot, a bit of a swirling wind, made it difficult to drag balls. Everyone stuck to their jobs for the full 90 [minutes] and he made the right changes again to keep the energy going. Obviously, it's always great when you get a late Bongi [Bongokuhle Hlongwane] winner to get the crowd going for sure."

In addition to Eric Ramsay's defensive principles, any other items that are instilled...

"No. I think the overarching principles have kind of come in about how compact we want to be, how we want to keep squeezing lines, not giving them the space to play between us. I think that helps the midfielders because at any point in time when the other team is playing into players in those pockets, those pockets are a lot smaller. They're not trying to cover 20-30 yards. Whenever the player gets the ball within our shape, there should be one of us within five, six yards and we can squeeze it the way we want to squeeze it."

On his relationship with DJ Taylor and how that has grown over the past few years...

"I think especially tonight with the players going up against whoever won it all in this league, I feel like in his short time here, I think DJ almost turned it [LAFC's experience] into a non-factor. But he was excellent tonight, everything on the front foot. I think that's a byproduct of how compact where everyone's coming, where to step, and our responsibilities. Great job by the coaching staff and DJ executed as well tonight, was excellent."

On Devin Padelford and his first MLS start...

"At home, in front of friends and family, against a big team, stoked for him to get the three points and a clean sheet. Obviously, he has so many strengths. He's only going to grow bigger and better into that position. I can't remember too many times where he put a foot wrong. I think overall, all of us can be cleaner on the ball. We had four sessions with Eric [Ramsay] and most of those were defensive principles. The last few games we haven't been great with the ball. We are sitting on a decent amount of points. Hungry to keep improving and know we've got quite a few areas we can get better at."

On four training sessions with Eric Ramsay and defense being the primary focus...

"Three out of the four have been. Really on Friday kind of touched on with the ball. He saw the first few games and we've got quality players who make good decisions when they move the ball in the right areas. Obviously, Robin's [Lod] always fantastic and we can bring on [Emanuel] Reynoso at the 60-minute mark, that's pretty handy too. We've got talented players who know what to do in those moments. I think with time, we will get better."

On his reflection of the high press these past four games...

"I think because we are trying to stay compact, that we take the initiative and go after them more, we trust [Teemu] Pukki to initiate the press, it is a bit difficult when we are more compact, that he's further away from the back but it worked out okay. I don't think they punished us and the most important thing was not allowing them to play through us. We did a good job of that tonight."

On how Eric handled things pregame, in game, and post-game. What about his styles on gameday...

"I thought the whole week, it's tough to do what most coaches would do in six weeks in four days. So he took the basics and similar principles to Cam and a different way of applying them. It's fun to learn off different coaches and the first time he is dealing with the management side. Happy with his debut."

On if they did anything to celebrate Eric's first win in the locker...

"No, nothing noteworthy, but we are all very happy for him but I think with what we have here we expect wins at home. It's not going to be something out of the ordinary celebration wise. I would like for us to think that this is the usual at Allianz."

On how he would describe the role of central midfield defensively compared to last season...

"I think just because we keep them compact. We switched to two six's, you're not expecting Will [Trapp] or Hassani [Dotson] to cover. I think we got too stretched at times and that made it kind of difficult to cover all the ground. So, when they are compact, maybe balls are getting played by them but they can turn and put in a tackle. Balls are being played in and someone will get a toe in and one of them will be on their toes to pick up the pieces so I think these first few games we've had have kind of been a key signature of what we've done, just keeping everybody compact and near the ball."


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