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MNUFC Win Second Straight with 2-1 over Rapids at Home

October 28, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Minnesota United FC News Release

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Coming in with momentum from a last-second road win in Cincinnati, MNUFC found themselves missing a few regular starters as they squared off with the visiting Colorado Rapids at Allianz Field. Fresh off his hero turn against Cincy, Aaron Schoenfeld started in place of Kei Kamara and Brent Kallman was in the starting XI for the first time since September of 2019. The Rapids came out strong, clearly wanting to banish the bad taste from a thrashing at the hands of SKC, but MNUFC struck first with a Robin Lod goal in the 44th minute. Colorado clawed back with a goal from Andre Shinyashiki, but were ultimately undone by a last minute own goal, handing MNUFC all three points.

Despite a long layoff and the sting of a blowout loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend, the Colorado Rapids came out of the gates brimming with energy. In the first minute, Jonathan Lewis beat out the Loons' defenders on the right side but fortunately for Minnesota, Lewis sprayed it wide left. In the eighth minute, MNUFC managed to tilt the field the other way, getting midfielder Kevin Molino a look off of a short clearance that was knocked down by a Colorado defender. Colorado, in fact, had long legs all night, getting in the way of plenty of shots in the final third.

As things evened out, the game opened up, with both sides getting decent looks at each end of the field through the first 20 minutes. In the 25th minute, MNUFC had to adjust as captain Osvaldo Alonso went down with an injury near midfield and stayed down, grabbing his leg and grimacing. Head Coach Adrian Heath brought in Jacori Hayes - fresh off a run of games starting in the midfield alongside Hassani Dotson.

Not missing a beat, the Minnesota offense got back to it, with Emanuel Reynoso back in his usual #10 spot. Reynoso had missed several games following a positive COVID-19 test, returning as a sub last game but coming back to the starting XI on the night. His creativity brought a much-needed spark to the Loons' attack. In the 36th minute, he sprung forward Aaron Schoenfeld with a deft pass. Schoenfeld lined up the shot, but goalkeeper William Yarbrough was up to the challenge.

It looked like the teams would head into the break level at nil-nil - and it would have been a fair first half result - but just before stoppage time kicked in, Reynoso found Robin Lod pushing into the box from the right wing, following a Colorado turnover. Schoenfeld had pulled the defense centrally with his initial run and it left Lod unmarked in the box and drilled the shot past Yarbrough to put the home side on top 1-0 as the whistle blew for halftime.

The Rapids didn't wilt in response to the goal and began the second half much the way they began the game, forcing the issue and making MNUFC work to defend their box. Their hard work was rewarded in the 69th minute on a deep foray into the final third. Forward Diego Rubio found himself with the ball near the edge of the six-yard box and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair stepped aggressively as defenders boxed him out. But Rubio spied Andre Shinyashiki streaking in from the right wing and shoveled the ball off to him. The winger struck the ball and defender Michael Boxall almost knocked it down, but instead flew into the goalpost as the ball flew into the net to level it at 1-1. Fortunately, Boxall - who's played every single minute this season - was back up and at it quickly.

Almost immediately off the restart, the Loons got a good opportunity to pull back in front. Defender Bakaye Dibassy - filling it at left back for Chase Gasper - rampaged up the left wing and centered the ball to Molino. The midfielder slotted a shot that banged off the woodwork before bouncing back out. The recycled ball was sent back in and off Lalas Abubakar for a corner that ultimately came to naught.

Seeking a different look, Heath went to his bench in the 82nd minute, bringing Raheem Edwards in for Aaron Schoenfeld and Marlon Hairston for Jacori Hayes. The move proved fortuitous in the 88th minute. Midfielder Ethan Finlay got the ball down the right side on a through ball and barreled up the pitch. Spying Edwards on a run directly between the centerbacks, Finlay sent in a dangerous cross straight for the midfielder-cum-striker. The pass forced Abubakar into a headed attempt to clear the ball over the bar, but instead he sent it with precision into the back of the net for an own goal. The goal put the Loons back on top 2-1 with only minutes to play.

Colorado did not give up, though, forcing MNUFC into some last ditch defending, especially in the 94th minute as the Rapids mounted a strong attack down the right that forced St. Clair into a difficult save that bounced loose and stayed in bounds. Eventually, Minnesota's defense blocked another shot and cleared it. Minnesota's staunch defense through the dying minutes held serve and the Loons walked away with their second straight win for the first time since September 9.

BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH: Midfielder Robin Lod


44' | Reynoso finds Lod wide open pushing into the box from the right wing and he drills the shot hard past Yarbrough. Schoenfeld pulled the defender centrally. 1-0

69' | Rubio gets the ball in front of goal and St. Clair comes out to challenge him. He shovels it off to Shinkyashiki, who drills it past Boxall, who goes sliding into the goalpost. 1-1

88' | Ethan Finlay blazes down the right side and fires in the cross, aiming for Raheem Edwards, but Abubakar tried to clear it and instead heads it in. 2-1


Minnesota United: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Bakaye Dibassy, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Romain Metanire; M Jan Gregus, Osvaldo Alonso, Kevin Molino, Robin Lod, Emanuel Reynoso; F Aaron Schoenfeld

Colorado Rapids: GK William Yarbrough; D Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Lalas Abubakar, Sam Vines; M Jack Price, Younes Namli, Cole Bassett; F Jonathan Lewis, Diego Rubio, Andre Shinyashiki


Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

11.01.20 | MLS Week No. 22 | MLS Game 20

6:30 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)



On how he felt about tonight ...

"I thought we got away with one tonight. I can't fault the guys determination to try and win a game of football. That's been apparent in the last few weeks. But, you know, we started slowly in the first half. As I said, we were second to every ball. Second to every second ball. And, last 15, 20 minutes, we got a little bit of play going. And, got a good goal. Pleased for Robin [Lod]. That's his eighth of the season now. Doing well, considering he can't score by all accounts. So, I'm pleased for him. As I say, we're sort of being held together a little bit with sellotape at the minute. We've got so many players playing with little knocks. And then we'll have a roll call tomorrow and see where we are for the weekend. But, the three points were vital, because, had we not got the three points, the pressure would have mounted with the games that we've got to come. They're all important games. And, six points, six points is, really...I'm so pleased that we got the result we did."

On if he feels like he pinched one again tonight ...

"Yeah. We were better. In [Cincinnati], we were better. I thought that tonight, and they have their moments where we have 10, 15 minutes of outstanding play, and it changes the course of the game. As it can do. But, I thought we deserved it the other night in Cincy. Tonight, if I was them, I'd be a little bit angry that they've taken nothing from the game."

On what he told Lalas Abubakar after the game ...

"Well, one of the great things about drafting players is that you meet these kids, and, you know, I don't know if anybody knows him, but he's an absolutely magnificent kid. He was so impressive when we interviewed him. And, he's one of them kids that after every game you always go up to him and he's very, very respectful and he thankful for where he is and what he's doing in his career. It's one of them moments that players have. But, he's making a really good career for himself. And, obviously, I was dissapointed for him but pleased for us."

On the status of Osvaldo Alonso ...

"Hamstring. Not the one he's had recently. Obviously, when it happens in the game, we're never quite sure how it's going to be. We'll have a better idea tomorrow when it's settled and he's had a night's sleep on it, how tender it is. But, you would think, for him to come off, because, we know what he's like, a bit of a warrior, you know, he doesn't come off with nothing. So, I would think, you know, if we make the playoffs, that would probably be the time he's around fit. I would think."

On Jacori Hayes and Michael Boxall hurting tonight, as well as Emanuel Reynoso coming off in the 60th minute and if that was a scheduled substitution ...

"No, no. [Reynoso] had a kick on his ankle in the first half and it was really swollen. It swelled up and he said he started feeling it getting all tender. Aaron Schoenfeld feels his calf. Jacori Hayes has got a groin strain. So, you know, as I say, we'll have a roll call tomorrow and see where we are. But, if ever we could have done with a week in between games, it would have been now. But, hey, the schedule is what it is. We know that we've got a big game at a really difficult place at the weekend."

On Emanuel Reynoso taking a few challenges and if he's getting the whistles that he deserves ...

"Well, I'm hoping that, you know, we get to the stage where... I watched certain DPs over the last few years who were getting treatment from the referees, and, I hope that this kid gets it, because the last thing we need is every time he gets the ball people making professional fouls against him, which is what they're trying to do. And, you know, we'll see. But, I thought he did some great stuff in the first half. Him and Kevin [Molino]. In that 20-minute spell where we were very good towards the end of the first half."

On if he has a confident sense of where MNUFC ranks within the league itself sitting firmly in the top five in the Western Conference but only playing the same 12 opponents ...

"No. I think we're all in the same boat. Every time I look at the TV, it's like Groundhog Day. You're seeing the same two teams playing. I've just seen Portland have gone one up against the Galaxy. It only seems like a week ago they were playing each other again down in LA. It's been a really strange year for everybody. Certainly, one that none of us want to go through again. Forgetting the COVID, I just mean from a football point of view. It's probably been the most challenging year of my football career. As a player and as a coach. It seems like every day there's another obstacle or issue to deal with. So, we're muddling through. And, the three points tonight were massive. When I consider where we've been with our injuries this year, the fact that we've only put the same lineup out more than two or three times all year, I think it's a remarkable situation that we find ourselves in and that's full testament to the players for what they've not only endured, but their determination to keep moving forward. Which has been commendable."

On navigating the times and what he has learned most about his team during this stretch ...

"As we said down in the tournament in Orlando, I remember saying that they're a resilient bunch and they keep going. Even tonight, and as I said, it's not been a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination, well, they've gone and pulled it out again. Whether it be an own goal or whatever. It doesn't matter. They've come through when they've been probably as tired as they've been in the last few weeks. So, to come through again, which they've done, as you say it's 11 points in the last five games, what is it, five or six games without a defeat? I said to you guys, I think it was last week, whoever can string two or three results together, we'll probably do it. Whether we're playing as well as we would like, but, we are getting results. They are grinding results out. At this stage in the season that's the most important thing."

On if he would have liked to see Dayne St. Clair stay on his line on the goal the Loons conceded ...

"I'll have to have another look at it. It's one of them, you think you can see, but, from where we're sitting and standing on the touchline, you don't any depth gauge. You don't know where he is or how far off his line he is. So, I'll have to have another look at it. I can't remember enough about where he was and what happened quickly enough to sort of make a considered opinion."

On how he felt about the changes in the backline with Brent Kallman coming in and Bakaye Dibassy shifting to the left, and if he senses some chemistry that can build there ...

"I thought considering this is his first one, I thought Brent [Kallman] was excellent. I thought he was really, really good. As the game wore on, made really good decisions. Broke up a lot of counterattacks. So, you know, obviously, the fact that you look at the clean sheets we've had when [Bakaye] Dibassy has been alongside [Boxall], but Brent has been terrific this evening. He really has."


On the opportunity to start again in Minnesota...

"I didn't know for sure. Obviously it's been a crazy year for the world in general. I mean, a lot of stuff has been going on, but for me personally, it definitely wasn't a good thing because I'm coming back from the suspension and I had the hip surgery that I put off for years. Finally did it in October. Honestly, during preseason I was in the best shape I think I've ever been in my life. Physically, feeling as good as I've had since I was 22, 23-years old. So, then the quarantine happened, I did my best to stay fit. We came back, pulled my hamstring, reinjured it in Orlando and I was just playing catch-up. I was so far behind. So, when they came to me after the Orlando tournament and said they wanted to loan me to El Paso, I was fully onboard. I needed it. I needed to play games, I needed to get my fitness back and my form back. Things went really well for me down there. I ended up coming into a great environment. They helped me get my form again and then I got recalled. And obviously, we were a little thin at the time, and guys were on four yellow cards, but that gave me some confidence that if I keep training well that that opportunity was going to come."

On getting used to the speed to MLS again compared to rehab in USL...

"You know, it took me a little while to get going honestly, and I think it was kind of that way for our whole team. The first 20, 25 minutes we were a little slow. We weren't winning first or second balls and they kept coming at us over and over and over again, and we had to absorb a lot of pressure. But, after that 20-25 minutes, I felt like I settled in. El Paso, they really prepared me because Mark Lowry, they play a style down there - I know you are really familiar with them Jeff [Rueter] - they play a style that's very dominating, right? They want to control possession and when they do lose the ball, they don't win it back, they go and press and get the ball back right away. I was used to playing out of everything, down there you have to. If a team is going to press you high, you find ways out. So, they did a good job. I was prepared. I'm comfortable on the ball. So, if teams want to press, it's part of the game and honestly it's a part of the game that I really welcome, the challenge of trying to play out."

On coming off of injury and what it means to be available for the team ...

"Yeah, I think it is. I think especially with, I mean the virus, it's still out there you know? It's not going anywhere. You never know when a guy or two might fall to that, so you got to have as many healthy bodies as you can. Tonight wasn't a very good one for us. There were a couple of injuries sustained tonight, but guys that haven't been in the 18 or haven't been playing, they've been training hard and they got to make sure they are ready because opportunities are coming, so guys got to be ready to take them."

On what he sees from Michael Boxall...

"He's a machine. I mean the guy never gets hurt. I was seeing him holding his leg there and for a second I was like 'What? This isn't supposed to happen. This can't happen!' But he's just a guy that, he's always gotten better. And that's something that I've tried to do in my career, I feel like I'm still improving at, you know I just turned 30, and Boxy [Michael Boxall] is the same way, but even more so. Ever since he's got to the club, he has continually gotten better. Month after month after month and it's just showing off this year. He's in great form, he's super well-rounded. He gives the team a ton and his availability is massive. I mean, he's available to play in this tight schedule, we play games mid-week, weekend, mid-week and he's healthy to go and not everyone can do that. It's a special gift that he has, so he's massive for the group."

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