Sports stats



 Minnesota United FC

MNUFC Remain Undefeated with 1-1 Draw Against Vancouver

March 25, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Minnesota United FC News Release


SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Since their inaugural season in 2017, Minnesota United remains unbeaten at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps following Saturday night's thrilling 1-1 draw that featured a lone goal from forward Mender Garcia and Vancouver's at-the-death equalizer in the 98th minute.

The pace was set quick and early with a chance for Vancouver when forward Brian White struck the crossbar with a left-footed shot off the volley in the first minute of the match. The Whitecaps kept a persistent attack, but Minnesota United gained its momentum when defender Zarek Valentin found space behind the Vancouver backline, where Luis Amarilla fired off a shot that was saved by Yohei Takaoka. Despite several opportunities for both sides, the first 40 minutes of the half were scoreless.

MNUFC then scored first when Zarek Valentin sprinted into the attacking third, sending a cross into the center of the box that found the head of forward Mender Garcia, who redirected the ball, netting the go-ahead goal in the 41st minute - his second goal of the season. Valentin was awarded the assist- notably his first MNUFC assist.

Following the cadence of the first half, Vancouver came out quick with another chance in the first minute of the second half, looking to tie the match with a header from Ryan Gauld, but goalkeeper Clint Irwin made the save. Without letting up, the Whitecaps saw four scoring chances in the second half within 20 minutes. Their best opportunity came in the 77th minute from defender Tristan Blackmon redirected the ball with a header and found the back of the net, but was ruled offsides.

In the 98th minute, the 'Caps answered back when Simon Becher made a far post run, striking a right-footed shot that snuck past Irwin for the 90'+8'-minute equalizer, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw just moments after the re-start.

Notably, the Loons had five MNUFC debuts on Saturday evening: goalkeeper Clint Irwin, forward Cameron Dunbar, forward Emmanuel Iwe, midfielder Zayden Bello, defender Mikael Marques; three of which were MLS debuts for Iwe, Bello, and Marques.

With the result, Minnesota United holds a 2-0-2 (W-L-D) record with eight points in regular-season play, and are still undefeated in the 2023 campaign.

ATTENDANCE: 19,609

BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH: Forward Mender Garcia

LINEUPS:

Minnesota United XI: GK Clint Irwin; D DJ Taylor, Miguel Tapias, Brent Kallman, Zarek Valentin; M Franco Fragapane, Hassani Dotson, Wil Trapp (c), Cameron Dunbar; F Mender Garcia, Luis Amarilla

Bench: GK Eric Dick; D Doneil Henry, Mikael Marques, Devin Padelford; M Zaydan Bello; F Patrick Weah, Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi; Emmanuel IwE

Vancouver Whitecaps XI: GK Yohei Takaoka; D Mathias Laborda, Ranko Veselnovic, Tristan Blackmon, Ryan Raposo; M Alessandro Schopf, Sebastian Berhalter, Julian Gressel, Ryan Gauld (c); F Cristian Dajome, Brian White

Bench: GK Thomas Hasal, Isaac Boehmer; D Karifa Yao, Ali Ahmed; Jean-Calude Ngando, Vasco Fry; F Deiber Caicedo, Simon Becher, Pedro Vite

UP NEXT:

MINNESOTA UNITED FC @ ST. LOUIS CITY SC

CITYPARK | St. Louis, Missouri

04.01.2023 | MLS 2023 Regular Season | Matchday 6

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

MINNESOTA UNITED POST GAME QUOTE SHEET

HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH

On the extra stoppage time...

"Six went up, we played 7:23."

On how difficult the result is after the team effort...

"Well you do when it's so late. They were pushing, but we knew it was going to be a tough game for us with what's gone on today. But when I look at the performances of people like Brent Kallman and DJ Taylor and Cameron Dunbar, Iwe [Emannuel Iwe] who's been injured for so long and coming on. I just wanted the players to get the reward of getting over the line, because there were five or six of them running on fumes at the end. I thought that they deserved to take something from it. It's always disappointing when it is that last kick of the game."

On if there was anything more that could have been done in the second half to hold the result...

"Well there's always things you can do and you try to do them, but when people are tired, you rely on getting in a defensive block and hoping that you can keep clearing the ball and defending. Maybe catch them on the break. I don't think we did enough on the break, because we had some good moments. But when I look at where we were this time last week and you knew what was coming this week, I think that it was a magnificent effort for a lot of the players who are extremely tired and have not played 90 minutes. That's the first 90 minutes that DJ [DJ Taylor] has played. Iwe [Emmanuel Iwe] has been injured for three-four months, five months maybe. He hasn't played 90 minutes. Cameron Dunbar hasn't played 90 minutes. Hassani [Hassani Dotson] is coming back from ten months. For the effort that they put in. I thought Clint [Clint Irwin] came in and was excellent. Micky [Miguel Tapias] as the game wore on and we were defending deeper and deeper and defend crosses, I thought BK [Brent Kallman] was exceptional the last twenty- twenty five minutes."

On the first team debuts of Emmanuel Iwe, Zaydan Bello and Mikael Marques...

"Well they'll certainly be better for it. The way the game ended and the emotion and what comes with it. It's a big step up whatever anybody thinks. Playing second team football and going up to the first team, the intensity, mentally and physically it is completely different. Some of them have never played against some of the power and the pace of people that they played against tonight. I thought most of them stood up to it really, really well."

On thoughts about the Vancouver goal...

"No. Not at the moment. I have to have a look. Talk to me Monday."

On the build up to Mender Garcia's goal...

"Well we spoke about switching the play because they play with a three high and try to take away the middle of the pitch and we were a little disappointed in the first 15-20 minutes. We worked on it nearly all week and if we can switch play and get to two on ones in those wide areas and that's what we did for the goal. We did it a few times in the second half where we got Zarek [Zarek Valentin] down here. I don't think we did it enough during the game, but in hindsight we had worked on that particular phase of play where the goal came about. That was pleasing, but I don't think that we did it enough. But as I say, I think I'm nitpicking at this minute and time. I'm really really pleased at the effort of a lot of players. I thought the crowd was fantastic, they tried to get us over the line and they were probably as disappointed as we were at the end."

On improving at the start of halves...

"Yeah, we have to start the game better. Once again, we knew they were going to play long every kickoff that they have, they go into the big guy, and they've got some big guys out there, and then they try to get the second ball, they play it wide, and then there's bodies in the box. Something we're going to deal with."

On if the club will seek additional clarification from PRO Referees...

"I don't really want to get involved in that. I said during the week I don't want to make excuses for the performance of the players. You write it. You were here. The board said six minutes, I've just been told it was 7:32 when the goal went in. I don't know. I don't have my stop watch. You people write it, maybe you can get some more clarification."

On set pieces being spot on this season...

"We have to work the penalty area, you have to put quality in the box, you have to get numbers in the box. Invariably if you put good quality in the box - I think their two or three best chances of the night came from great crosses from [Julian] Gressel. If you put the ball in the right spots and you've got some physical presence and guys that want to get on the end of the ball, they are very difficult to defend."

DEFENDER ZAREK VALENTIN

On the games 6 minute stoppage time and going over..

"Yeah, it's tough. I don't know exactly what time it was or anything like that, but as a defender we want to do our best to see out the game whether it goes over by one minute or ten or it stops early. I'm never going to place any blame on that, because that shifts it away. I look internally, first and foremost, on how I could've affected the end of the game, whatever it might be. Again, we are not going, at least personally I'm not going to look at the ref and say 'we went over', because it's ultimately not in our hands. What we can control is the ball landing on our feet and trying to make plays as best as possible."

On anything that could have been done differently on the last goal...

"I'll have to go look at the film. It happened very quickly, but again we all have to chip in and try to do our best to see the game out. We have a lot of guys coming in and making their debuts. I thought everyone came in and helped us get to a point where we were in a position to win the game and ultimately it didn't happen. We will go back and look at the film and learn from it and move forward as best as possible."

On the players that made their debut...

"It's awesome. A lot of young guys came on and got their first minutes professionally or first minutes for the team. That's big, because it shows the depth that we have and it's awesome that the fans get to see that. There's going to be a lot more of those guys getting minutes, so they should get used to it and it's exciting to see the depth which we displayed tonight."

On the group effort with the absences...

"I think it's a mentality thing, first and foremost, because next man up. Ultimately, chances aren't guaranteed in the run of play in terms of getting minutes. Players have to take whatever minutes, whatever opportunity they have to try to put their best foot forward. I think some guys did that tonight which is exciting. Again, we will learn from the end of the game and move forward and learn to see those out, because those are important points. Ultimately, we are undefeated and whether you want to look at that as ties or whatever, but, we put ourselves in a good spot in the beginning of the season to continue to build."

On switching play and creating mismatches...

"Yeah, I think the first ten minutes we're always feeling it out a bit and we were able to find a little bit of room on my side, especially when we switched it out and create some chances. Cam [Cameron Dunbar] was dangerous. He's a handful. We all got to see that and I'm excited to see him get as many minutes as possible this year, because whether he's coming from the bench or starting from the jump, he's a handful. I wouldn't want to play against him, so I know a lot of outside backs wouldn't either. You know, Wil [Trapp] played a great ball out for me and we had numbers in the box and Mender [Mender Garcia] had a great finish. Thankfully, I am able to contribute as much as I can to the attack as well as try to defend as best as possible."

On if counting time is making excuses...

"I'm never going to make excuses, because I cannot control the referee. No one here can control the referee in terms of them calling fouls, them ending the game early, them ending it late. That's not in our hands. All we can do is control the way the ball bounces on the field as best as possible and try to make things difficult for the opponent."

On Vancouver's chances after the kickoff...

"Yeah, we need to start better. That's been a common theme throughout the course of the season. So, I think that's just being direct as possible and putting them under pressure and relieving our back six. We can look at that, but that's something we should easily be able to control, especially when we get the ball early as defenders. I missed the pass to Cam [Cameron Dunbar] early and ultimately that led to the bar being hit. As a veteran guy, I need to take ownership of that pass and Cam's in a good spot and wants the ball, but maybe I should look him off and say you know what I'm just going to put this in the corner and we'll get out lines up and defend higher up on the field because it's always a little bit hectic at the beginning of the game, but we are doing our best to manage that and I think that is something we can really control and something we will get better at for sure."

On pairing with Brent Kallman on the backline...

"BK's [Brent Kallman] a vet. He's been around the league a bunch. We are similar in age and it's just a matter of bettering that relationship as much as possible, whether we have a lot of time or a little bit of time. It was solid tonight. There's definitely some things we are going to look back on and get better from that. He's a guy who's seen everything and was massive tonight for us, winning balls, making the right decisions that was great. He was in some tussles with their front two, so it's a matter of him up to the challenge and he definitely was tonight so I was happy with him and a lot of our performances again. We are going to look back and learn from the film, because that's all we can do and we're going to move forward."

FORWARD EMMANUEL IWE

On his MLS debut...

"I think it went well. It feels like the guys gave a lot, and I came on and tried to listen to Wil [Trapp], Hassani [Dotson]. The guys have been on the field, they've done this. Especially coming in a hard-fought game like this, I felt I did well, but most importantly, it's a bit tough to not get the three points, and it's a bit of a disappointment."

On the sensations after stepping on the pitch...

"Before I got injured last year, I played in the Everton [FC] game, and I think that was more so my moment like 'alright, here it is.' When you're on the field playing like that it's not necessarily thinking about the fans. You're so focused on the game and it's almost like ambient noise around you. You hear them, and they give you fuel in your heart, but at the end of the day, it's what's going on the field. That's what's in your head."

On his level of comfortability with the pace of play...

"I felt comfortable. This is what we train for every day at the [National Sports] Center. Gaffer [Adrian Heath] puts you in these moments. He wouldn't give me the nod if he didn't feel I was ready for it. The speed of play wasn't too fast, just like how we do in training. It's more intense, there's more on the line than with the Twos [MNUFC2], but you have to step up for the time. You have to step up, and I felt like I did that well."

On the current injuries he has been working through...

"About a week after the Everton game last year, I tore a ligament in my foot. It's actually my first game back in eight months, which is crazy to think about that. Two surgeries, [I] couldn't walk for a couple of months. It's been a tough battle back. I'm really grateful for the physical therapy staff that helped me through because there's some days where, I remember in preseason down in Florida, there was a day that I almost just broke down because I couldn't run. Being back and not only being back, but my first game back, having it be my MLS debut is very special and kind of makes me a little bit emotional because of what I've been through almost these past eight months. It was great."

On the amount of people he had at the match...

"Who knows, but I had family and friends, people who have been in my life for a long time. Without them, I wouldn't be here in this moment, so it was very special to share that with them again."

On the club drafting him despite injuries...

"That meant a lot. It's one thing to have faith in a player that's already played. It's another thing to have faith in a player that's been injured. You don't know how he's going to return. It really meant a lot that they went out and did that. There was so many other people that they could have drafted and they just said 'no, we'll stick with the guy we already have.' To almost waste a draft pick on a player that they already owned seems a bit out of the ordinary, but I'm glad that they had the faith in me to trust that I would come back healthy and be able to contribute to the team."

On paying attention to the time after 90 minutes of play...

"Yeah, with that I remember it was one of the goal kicks, and I asked the ref and he didn't say anything, but that's not what we should be focused on. You need to be focused on defending and not conceding the goal that we did, so I think that's more on us as a team than the ref adding however many minutes he was going to add. That's going to be inevitable. What we need to focus on is defending and trying stop the goal happened."

On his conversation with the referee...

"Not much. Obviously just focus on the game more. It's hard to hear, he could've said something, but it's not really important."

On his MNUFC2 tryout...

"It's kind of what I tried to show on the field today. Fearless in the attacking third, taking on players, sometimes you mess up, sometimes you don't, and staying true to the type of player I am. But, also bringing something else into a team setting. Once you start to get to a higher level, it starts to be more team-oriented. Finding a place for myself in that team, as well as trying to help the team as best as possible and distribute the ball."

On the other opportunities he had going into the MNUFC2 tryout...

"Coming out of COVID and being at [Deportivo] Saprissa not very much, that tryout was basically a hail-mary, in a sense, looking for something. When you're a non-league player trying to make it back to the next step, you need someone to take a chance on you and that's what this club did on me. I'm very grateful for that."

On the surrealness of his path to making an MLS debut...

"A bit, yes. But at the same time, I feel like if you're not ready for it, chances only come once in a lifetime sometimes. Going back to the tryout, it's kind of a process - I talked about it a little bit earlier: a chance comes, you take it, you do your best. Then another one comes and it's like a stepping stone. Once you hit those stepping stones, if things keep going better for you, then you keep doing better. Yeah, it's surreal to go from two years ago at St. Cloud State [University] to here. But, at the same time, I kind of look at myself and go, 'okay, I was ready to make that jump.'"

On his desire to get more minutes after his MLS debut...

"Yeah, I'm grateful to the coaching staff, I know it's international break [with] a lot of starters missing, but for having faith in me and bringing me up. It's just a taste and I liked how it tasted, so I'm hungry for more, but that's up to the coaches to decide."


• Discuss this story on the Major League Soccer message board...

Major League Soccer Stories from March 25, 2023


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Minnesota United FC Stories



Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central