In snow, Loons slip up and settle for 1-1 draw with Red Bulls
Minnesota started strong with a 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Feb 25 and then had a bye in Week 2.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United’s second Snow Opener went only slightly better than the indelible first one in 2017.
The club’s inaugural MLS home game seven years ago is seared in supporters’ memories for the snow globe scene at TCF Bank Stadium. But that match also ended with the 6-1 loss to expansion cousin Atlanta United.
In Saturday’s home opener, the Loons gave up a first-half lead and settled for a 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls at Allianz Field.
It’s not just the 2017 home opener that went awry. Nearly every home opener has gone poorly for Minnesota as they fell to 1-3-3 before Saturday. The Loons’ only win came in 2018.
Loons manager Adrian Heath had gathered his players after Friday’s training session for a quick message. Minnesota started strong with a 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Feb 25 and then had a bye in Week 2. “We had a good start last week, don’t ruin it,” Heath relayed.
But Minnesota (1-0-1) let two points slip away on a snowy surface against New York (0-1-2). The sounds of Bob Marley post-match won’t change the mood too much.
The Loons’ goal came on their first corner kick of the season. After not taking a corner versus Dallas, Franco Fragapane’s service went to Micky Tapias and then Bongi Hlongwane.
Carlos Coronel saved it but Hlongwane put away the rebound in the 18th minute. It was the South African’s first goal in 751 MLS minutes since July 30.
Minnesota started cold in the second half conceding possession. Then Red Bulls equalized off a corner kick in the 49th minute with Andres Reyes winning a header over Tapias. It was New York’s first goal in two 1/2 games this season.
After giving up the equalizer, Minnesota had some positive moments but couldn’t find the final ball. Luis Amarilla and Robin Lod had overhead kicks on stoppage time.
Lewis Morgan threatened Minnesota throughout the first half with five shots and from the opening whistle on. His first shot went just wide right in the first minute and he nearly chipped Dayne St. Clair but Michael Boxall cleared the attempt in the third.
St. Clair’s biggest save was coming off his line to deny Morgan’s one-on-one chance in the 55th minute.
MNUFC’s pursuit of South Korean attacker Jeong Sang-bin remains active. The 20-year-old is currently on loan with Grasshopper Club Zurich and under contract with Wolverhampton Wanderers. “Hopefully we will have a bit more news over the weekend,” Heath said. … Allianz Field held a moment of celebration for the late Vikings coach Bud Grant, who passed away Saturday at age 95. … Supporters in the Wonderwall had a pregame tifo sign of Babe The Blue Ox knocking out a Red Bull in a boxing ring with the message “get up and fight.”
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