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MNUFC Remains Unbeaten at Allianz Field Defeating Dynamo 1-0

May 25, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Minnesota United FC News Release

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Another home game, another 1-0 result for the Loons, keeping their undefeated streak at Allianz Field intact. Against a formidable Houston Dynamo squad sitting above them in the standings, Minnesota United put together a balanced game featuring stout defending and just enough attacking to get them all three points and push them within two points of fourth place in the Western Conference.

"Where I'm really pleased today - for different reasons - we don't take anything from this game, last year," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "The collective mentality to defend the goal. Do what's asked of them. People doing what the coaching staff wants them to do. Defending properly. Putting the group before individuals. I thought it was outstanding at times, and I'm really pleased for a lot of aspects from the game today. Because I don't think we've played as well as we can today, but we certainly, as a group, worked really, really hard to deny a really, really good attacking team."

Houston established its gameplan early: press high when Minnesota's backline won the ball and strike quickly when its own defenders won the ball back. In addition to forward Mauro Manotas and wingers Romell Quioto and Memo Rodriguez, the Dynamo's #10, Tomas Martinez, pushed up very high in an effort to keep the Loons from getting comfortable with the ball.

Midfielder Darwin Quintero - who has struggled recently to find top form thanks to some nagging injuries - very nearly got in his bag early on. In just the fifth minute, he found himself receiving the ball on the near post on the right side of Houston's box. In one motion, he popped the ball up, whirled, and struck a roundhouse shot with his back to the net, pinging it off the top right corner of the woodwork and just missing a wondergoal.

Moments later, Minnesota was forced to defend a host of Houston attackers dancing through its box. Somehow, the collective effort kept the Dynamo from getting a sliver of daylight to put it on frame and the Loons successfully staved off the attack. It was a pattern that would persist throughout the first half as Minnesota couldn't keep the visitors entirely out of the box but managed to bend without breaking.

A big part of that was the excellent showing by rookie Hassani Dotson, starting his first MLS game and playing out of position at right back after usually being deployed as a central midfielder in his collegiate career. After a strong night in Wednesday's exhibition against Hertha Berlin, Dotson put in a solid full 90, providing both defensive resilience and some heads up distribution on the offensive end.

"I thought, for his debut, playing in an unfamiliar position, against whoever came down his side - it was [Romell] Quioto, it was [Memo] Rodriguez - I thought he was outstanding," said Heath. "The kid did everything that we asked of him. And as we said after the game. If he, God willing, stays injury free, listens and learns - which we don't think he won't - he has a great opportunity because the kid's just got a feel for the game. No matter where you play him, he gets a feel for the game. You can't give that to people. They've either got it, or they haven't and he's got a feel for the game."

In the 20th minute, Minnesota got on the board with a bit of luck. After spending a good deal of the game's opening building through the midfield on the left side, the team leveraged the space created by that approach to start switching the field and getting the ball to defender Romain Metanire on the right. In one of these sequences, Metanire settled the ball and dribbled it a few steps forward before firing in a hard cross that caught defender Boniek Garcia's outstretched leg. The ball arced high into the sky and over goalkeeper Joe Willis, settled softly just inside the upper left corner of the goal, and gave the home side a 1-0 lead.

"Well, he said he meant it: the deflection," said Heath. "He's obviously pleased. Maybe, maybe they'll give it to him after the one that Angelo [Rodriguez] claimed a few weeks ago. But no, another outstanding performance from him."

From there, it was back to more solid defending from a Loons squad that's made it very difficult for visiting teams to get looks at Allianz Field. Despite the Dynamo's ability to get balls in and even get long shots off the clearances, they couldn't quite solve Minnesota's defending or sneak one past goalkeeper Vito Mannone. Despite nine shots in the first half, Houston only put one on target, forcing Mannone's lone save of the first half. For a team that thrives on counterattacking on the road, Houston's 59.1% possession was also a possible sticking point for them. The teams headed into the tunnel with MNUFC on top.

"I said to the players at halftime - I thought our defensive block in our own half was excellent," said Heath. "I thought the middle was okay. And I was dissapointed in the final third. I don't think we had enough controlled possession to create chances. It was isolated breakaways, and then it was the block again. You know, I'd rather be defending from the front because we've got controlled possession in their half of the field. And I don't think we did a good enough job at that."

Houston opened the second half with a surplus of energy and drive, pushing their luck a bit and getting deep into the attack quickly. This in turn opened up more opportunities for Minnesota United, leading to a wild opening 10 or 15 minutes where the chances piled up for each side but with none bearing fruit. Minnesota rung up chances for midfielder Ethan Finlay, forward Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero in short order but all sailed wide or high.

The MNUFC defense also managed to get a bit more aggressive as the game wore on, getting up the pitch and putting pressure on Houston's backline. In the 62nd minute, the game of subs began, with Houston pulling forward Romell Quioto for Tommy McNamara. In the 65th, Heath pulled Angelo Rodriguez for Abu Danladi, perhaps hoping to take advantage of an overcommitted moment from Houston's attack to have the speedy attacker run in behind. Overall, though, it was clear the Loons were largely content to move the ball around the middle of the park and try to keep it away from the Dynamo without giving up opportunities.

Down the stretch, Quintero had to leave with a bit of a knock and was replaced by midfielder Rasmus Schuller, signaling a shift to a more defensive mindset in the 78th minute. The shift was completed in the 83rd minute when Miguel Ibarra made way for Ike Opara, giving the home side five at the back. Nevertheless, MNUFC continued to get opportunities, including killing the game off in stoppage time in Houston's end of the field with a series of corner kicks and free kicks.

"I prefer it be down their end - defending - than in our end. But I thought we managed the game really well. And that's, you know, that's something that we haven't been good at. We managed the game well. People knew when to go forward, when to err on the side of caution and go no, no. I'm going to stay at home and mark people. As I say, I'm as pleased tonight as I have been all season. For different reasons."

In the end, Minnesota left with a sound 1-0 win, marred only by a late yellow card for Man of the Match Romain Metanire, meaning he will miss the team's next game, an away tilt against Atlanta United on Wednesday, May 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pre-game coverage for that contest begins at 5:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.

Lineups

Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Vito Mannone; D Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Hassani Dotson; M Jan Gregus, Osvaldo Alonso, Ethan Finlay, Miguel Ibarra (Ike Opara 83'), Darwin Quintero (Rasmus Schuller 78'); F Angelo Rodriguez (Abu Danladi 65')

MIN Unused Subs: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Wyatt Omsberg; M Lawrence Olum F Mason Toye,

Houston Dynamo Starting XI: GK Joe Wilis; D A.J. DeLaGarza, Alejandro Fuenmayor (Kevin Garcia 69'), DaMarcus Beasley, Aljaz Struna; M Matias Vera, Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto (Tommy McNamara 62'), Tomas Martinez (Marlon Hairston 75'), Memo Rodriguez; F Mauro Manotas

HOU Unused Subs: GK Tyler Deric; D Adam Lundkvist; M Darwin Ceren, Juan Cabezas

Game Events

Goals

20' - Metanire (Gregus) - MIN

Discipline

40' - Fuenmayor (YC) - HOU

66' - B. Garcia (YC) - HOU

90' - Metanire (YC) - MIN

Attendance: 19,701

MINNESOTA UNITED QUOTES SHEET

MINNESOTA UNITED HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH

On another shutout and another 1-0 win, and if the dynamic of the team is changing ...

"Well I'll stick with it if that's, clean sheets is gonna give us a really good chance. Where I'm really pleased today - for different reasons - because yeah, we've created two or three really good chances as well. But, we don't take anything from this game, last year. The collective mentality to defend the goal. Do what's asked of them. People doing what the coaching staff wants them to do. Defending properly. Putting the group before individuals. I thought it was outstanding at times, and I'm really pleased for a lot of aspects from the game today. As much as I have been in previous weeks where I've come in here and thought we've done great. Because I don't think we've played as well as we can today, but we certainly, as a group, worked really, really hard to deny a really, really good attacking team. Many efforts. And I thought the shape at times was outstanding."

On ending up with 42 percent possession, and how he felt the team was on the ball ...

"I don't think we used it well enough. Honestly. I thought we always looked dangerous on the break. Even in the first half, I thought it we got a little bit of quality, we would have opportunities. I don't think - you know, I said to the players at halftime - I thought our defensive block in our own half was excellent. I thought the middle was okay. And I was dissapointed in the final third. I don't think we had enough controlled possession to create chances. It was isolated breakaways, and then it was the block again. You know, I'd rather be defending from the front because we've got controlled possession in their half of the field. And I don't think we did a good enough job at that this evening."

On not making evaluations until the home and away games even out, and his thoughts now that the team has played seven away and six at home ...

"Well, it looks honestly a bit healthier. And it might quiet one or two people down."

On Hassani Dotson's performance tonight ...

"I thought, for his debut, playing in an unfamiliar position, against whoever came down his side - it was [Romell] Quioto, it was [Memo] Rodgriguez - I thought he was outstanding. The kid did everything that we asked of him. And as we said after the game. If he, God willing, stays injury free, listens and learns - which we don't think he won't - he has a great opportunity because the kid just got a feel for the game. No matter where you play him, he gets a feel for the game. You can't give that to people. They've either got it, or they haven't and he's got a feel for the game."

On how he characterizes Romain Metanire's goal ...

"Well, he said he meant it. The deflection. He's obviously pleased. Maybe, maybe they'll give it to him after the one that Angelo [Rodriguez] claimed a few weeks ago. But no, another outstanding performance from him. I thought that our defensive block was very, very good all evening."

On what he did specifically with Mauro Manotas ...

"Well, I thought we picked our moments to go tied, we picked our moments to drop off. And I thought we did it well. Was it a few weeks ago that I was talking about, we've done better this year without beating ourselves. That's another performance like that today. I can't remember making mistakes that have cost us dearly. That's been, certainly since I've been the coach here, that's been the biggest Achilles heel for us. Is every time we make a mistake it's ended up in the back of the net. And we've started to, you know, we've started to play what the game gives us, not try and create things or try and force things. And I think that's helped us."

On the fifth clean sheet of the year, and if the credit goes to better talent on the roster or better listening to the coaching staff ...

"Better of everything. I think it's there for everybody to see, we've got more talent on the roster. We've also got a situation where we're actually, we're actually doing what the coaching staff are asking and I think the players are buying in to what we're trying to tell them. Which is always nice."

On if there's a concern on losing Romain Metanire for the midweek game in Atlanta ...

"Well, we'd prefer to have him, but it is what it is, isn't it? At this stage of the season when you're a defender, the chances are that you're going to be in and around them sort of numbers, but I thought actually it was a cheap yellow card with some of the tackles that went on today that didn't get a yellow card, but hey, it is what it is."

On his thoughts on the front four ...

"I don't think we were - I thought they worked hard enough in the defensive aspect of the game - I don't think we were really good going forward. I don't think we were particularly good going forward all evening. Second half, I thought when the game opened up and they were taking more and more chances, you know, I thought Ethan [Finlay] had a really good chance, I thought Darwin [Quintero]. Angelo [Rodriguez] has had a couple, Ras [Schuller] has had another. We've created probably four really good chances today. And, you know, it's taken the deflection for us to win the game. But as I said, we'll take that."

On the minutes of stoppage time being mostly in the final third ...

"I prefer it be down their end, we're defending, than in our end. But I thought there was, no, we managed the game really well. And that's, you know, that's something that we haven't been good at. We managed the game well. People knew when to go forward, when to air on the side of caution and go no, no. I'm going to stay at home and mark people. As I say, I'm as pleased tonight as I have been all season. For different reasons."

On if Eric Miller or Chase Gasper will be healthy enough to step in for Romain Metanire ...

"We'll see, we'll see. We'll have a better idea. I think, [Chase] Gasper, maybe. If that's the case, we'll push Hassani [Dotson] across. No, we'll have to wait and see."

On if the goal Romain Metanire scored is his first or second ...

"You better ask him. Or you can take it off Angelo [Rodriguez]. I'm sure that'll go down well."

MINNESOTA UNITED MIDFIELDER HASSANI DOTSON

On if he had any nerves tonight...

"I was a little nervous, but it helped that I got to play with the team against Hertha. I just want to thank the coaching staff and the athletic training staff for helping me get through this. They've been really supportive the whole time. They try to make sure I don't have so many nerves before the game."

On how he feels being used in a number of different positions for the team...

"I like it. I'm just trying to compete, and play, and help the team win any way I can."

On if anyone in particular helped him get acclimated to the game at all...

"Honestly it was everyone, everyone had a moment with me telling me good luck, kill it, don't think too much, play your game you know how to play. It wasn't just one individual. It really means a lot that they care about me."

On what he was looking to bring to the team tonight...

"I was just trying to play hard and help the team get a win."

On how much of an adjustment he made for playing left back...

"It's a little adjustment, but it helps that I played there in the preseason, and also I played a couple stints at left back and right back my freshman year of college."

On going up against [Romell] Quioto...

"He's a great player, but we played against him in the preseason so he wasn't too much of a shock. Obviously he brings a lot of physical attributes and pace."

On why he hasn't been more overwhelmed with his swift upbringing on the team since being picked in the second round...

"I think it's just, you work hard, you don't look at the numbers at the end of the day. In the draft, it goes off of need as well. I just really felt I had something to prove, so I'm just working hard to be the best that I can be."

On if he'd be okay with sliding over to the right back position...

"If that's the plan, I'm okay with it. I'm ready for anything."

On who has been a calming influence for him on the team...

"Ozzie [Osvaldo Alonso]. Ras [Rasmus Schuller]. Darwin [Quintero]. I mean even Vito [Mannone] in the back. They're like that to all of the young guys. Talking with my other friends, you don't see this in every locker room, so I think it's a great for my teammates and the coaching staff and everyone in Minnesota for bringing together such a great group of guys."

On what Miguel [Ibarra] was telling him right before the start of the game...

"He was just trying to make me laugh at a joke. He said like a little cliche quote from a movie, 'strong side, left side'. Something like that just makes it that much easier to relax and get ready for the game."

MINNESOTA UNITED MIDFIELER ETHAN FINLAY

On Romain Metanire's goal...

"Well, it's news to me that they credited it to him. We were banging on the door tonight and obviously, it might not have been the prettiest goal for us to score this evening, but it was effective. We talked at halftime about getting balls into the box and I thought we were better in the second half. That's where our goal came from - trying to get a ball into the box. A fortunate deflection obviously for us. I thought this was a deserved three points tonight. I thought we were fantastic defensively. We probably squandered chances to make it two, three, four nothing, but it was a gritty performance tonight and I'm happy about it."

On Romain's goal being his first or second this season....

"Officially I guess it will be his first, but they do look quite similar don't they. He just continues to impress. He will be missed on Wednesday with the yellow card, which I thought was a bit of an unfortunate decision. But it might be a good time for him to get a little bit of rest and come back to us for the second half of the year."

On the team's defensive work making it more difficult to get forward on the attack...

"Yes and no. There are moments in the game where we are defending, but what's important is that we are defending as a group. We've got the guys up front that are coming back and making it a ten [on defense]. In the past we were going as two blocks of four and when you add those two guys and their ability to shut down center backs and the defensive midfielders it makes our job a lot easier with the guys behind the ball. I thought those guys were great again tonight. You saw us change them out because they were running ragged the last couple of games. It starts with those guys up front. We talked about our defensive shape, I think we are still getting in the attack, there's moments of transition where you can see where we have numbers up [the field], but we have players that are good enough; you see Darwin [Quintero] run by two or three guys, Angelo can hold off two or three. We can still use those moments in transition, but I still thought we had enough opportunities we just didn't finish."

On tonight potentially being the biggest win of the season....

"Up to this moment. They are all extremely important, but tonight had a lot of great elements. A team in Houston that's in third place, twenty-three points, a team that we obviously need to be chasing. They have been very good at the start of the season. To get a shutout, first and foremost, I thought was huge. To be really solid defensively and obviously to keep the unbeaten streak here at home. We hold that with a lot of pride and we will continue to do so."

On Adrian Heath's message to the team after the game...

"He said that it wasn't pretty, but it was effective. In 2017 or 2018 we tie that game and possibly even lose it. With some of the new players that we have added, you see our versatility in being able to bring someone like Ike Opara in to shut a game down. Rasmus Schuller to lock down the left-hand side. As we continue to get our depth, it's a testament to the experience that we have added to this roster and the experience that we have gone through. Having lost some of those games, I was a part of some of them and a lot of other guys have - we don't like that taste and I think we are taking a lot of pride in being able to close games out."

On playing against DeMarcus Beasley...

"It was great, I was happy to see him out there. He won two headers over me in the first half and I said 'damn man, you still got it'. What a tremendous career he has had and being able to do it at this stage is a testament to his professionalism. It was great to be able to be out there against him. I'm sure we will see him later down the road."

On where he thinks the team is now that the home-away schedule is evening out...

"We have put ourselves in a very favorable position. LAFC is the class of the Western Conference right now, they're the team everyone is chasing. With five games on the road to start the season and now being at the end of May entering into June, had you said we'd be sitting here with 21 points I think we'd be pretty happy with our situation and another opportunity on Wednesday.

On how Hassani Dotson played...

"I thought he was fantastic. Obviously some jitters early on, he made a couple of moves where he was getting forward in the attack, holding guys off. You saw how strong he was Wednesday night against Hertha Berlin. It was a tremendous debut for him. Really proud of him. He has been really solid for most of the season."

MINNESOTA UNITED GOALKEEPER VITO MANNONE

On fifth clean sheet and tying an MLS club record with that stat, and what's driving that ...

"It's, I think it's an effort from everybody. I think it's fantastic. I will grind for clean sheets, and the whole squad, any guys who came in, and who didn't play before as well, like people like Hassani [Dotson]. I think he was great at the left back, he was fantastic. As I've said, the hard work during the week then pays you off in the weekend. And you win games like today, where you have very good opponents and very good forwards. Guys that score almost every game. It's fantastic that we got another one."

On how disappointed he is that he didn't get the assist on the punt ...

"Very, very, very disappointed. We work hard on that, too. Sometimes I spend extra time on the training field to tweak those kinds of balls that get sent out. It's a weapon you can use against teams because they push men forward. At the end of the day, it leaves them one on one, with the defender and then one on one with the keeper. Unfortunately, I told Angelo [Rodriguez] he will score the next one. I'm sure. And we can celebrate the goal.

On John Pascarella and his game management, and setting the tempo of the game ...

"It's good. I think, I've learned in the past, again, this comes with when we play more games and experience, the right time you need to waste. The good amount of time without being too over the line. I always try to do it, I always try to manage the game, because, we work on that. We spoke since the beginning with John [Pascarella] and when we reviewed the videos, it's one part of the game, which I need to do. And it's important to win games like this."

On whether or not he has heard from Reading F.C. ...

"Not really. I'm taking game by game. I'm focusing in, now. I want to work hard, improve myself every day and deliver on a Saturday, Sunday. So, that's the most important thing. My first objective is football and soccer and doing well for the team. And as I've said before, my aim is to get this team into playoffs, and I think it's what everybody else wants. So, we've got a new stadium and we've got a good team. Why not? We need to push ourselves father in training every day. Big games are coming along, and hopefully get the points we need."

On what he thought of Romain Metanire's goal from a keeper perspective ...

"Well, it's difficult. These types of balls, when it's deflected, it's a nightmare for us. It looked in at the back post, and you just need to react as quick as possible. I think once it has a deflection, it makes it hard for the keeper to track back and make a save."

On if the goal Romain Metanire scored is his first or second ...

"Well, first question is, is it his goal? We were joking because we had a kind of bet that if [Romain} score, Jan would pay me. So, I'm guessing Jan, he needs to pay now."

MINNESOTA UNITED DEFENDER MICHAEL BOXALL

On Adrian talking about getting results that are different from last year, was that this type of game ...

"I thought we did really well at home last year. We beat these guys at home last year and they were one of the strongest teams. I think their keeper saves to make tonight. I think the whole back six, actually the whole ten of us in front of Vito did a really good job. I thought Hassani did really good tonight for someone who is not a full back. I thought he was great against Berlin and then tonight again. What a great start for him on what should be the first of many of his career."

On having a calmness and how that has improved this year...

"Massively I think. When you have a few older heads with Ozzie, the experience of Jan as well and I think an example of that is when we were down for ten in the first half and Hassani was off and just enough on the clock to give him more time to get back on. Then we ground out the last five to ten minutes and just did what we had to do. I think I won't be the first to admit that it wasn't the prettiest game that we played, but it still feels like a win though."

On what Jan [Gregus] provides the team...

"I'd love to see his GPS tactic. He covers a lot of ground. Especially him with the ball, him and Ozzie. I just feel comfortable giving it to them in most situations, with a man on their back they are going to do the right thing with it. They have proven that all season long. So, I think when we are able to keep the ball, it just makes us feel like we are playing with more maturity. We need a bit more patience with our build up and we just need to work on a few things in the final third to help close out games."

On the team's standings currently...

"I don't really look at the standings. I just look at the next game and we just want to get the three points. Now that you have brought it up maybe I will have a look and see where we are at. Honestly, I am pretty sure Houston was above us. The Western Conference is a tough conference and you need to make sure you win your games at home to make sure you are still in the mix come September."

On Elis being out tonight...

"Obviously, he is a massive threat. I think he has shown a comeback in the last few years. He is so dangerous in one v. one situations, but I am not too worried. I think we have had better players that have come across our full backs this season, especially in recent weeks. Romain has shown that time and time again, probably one of the best full backs in the league at the moment."

On whether or not this was Romain's first or second goal...

"He has had one stolen from him already. So officially it is his first."


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