Minnesota United Tops Portland Timbers in Wednesday Thriller
Minnesota United topped the Portland Timbers at home on Wednesday night as the first-year club defeated the team that edged them in their season opener. The Loons will now welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps to TCF Bank Stadium this Saturday.
The Loons suffered a 5-1 loss to the Timbers during their first MLS match to open the 2017 campaign. After a frustrating few weeks that saw MNUFC fall to Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake, the team returned to the comforting confines of TCF Bank Stadium with their hearts set on revenge.
“Sometimes I think that we’re at our best when we are fired up,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “Coming with that is that incidents and decisions go against you sometimes. I would rather have it than not have it. And too many times, we’ve not had it. They’re starting to believe a little bit.”
To open the scoring, MNUFC held possession down the right wing as midfielder Kevin Molino knocked the ball ahead to midfielder Sam Cronin. Cronin gathered the ball and fired a shot that met diving Portland defender Amobi Okugo who knocked the ball into his own goal, giving the Loons a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
“There’s never a bad time to score a goal,” said Heath. “I’ll take it every week, after five minutes. Thank you!”
In the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Timbers began to rally and connect through the midfield. With momentum swinging in Portland’s direction, the Timers were awarded a penalty when midfielder Diego Valeri was taken down in the box by goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Valeri calmly struck the ball into the left side of the net to level the match at 1-1.
To open the first half, Molino delivered a through ball to Loons forward Christian Ramirez in the penalty area. Ramirez’s first touch popped up and he finished calmly over the goalkeeper.
The Loons’ 2-1 lead was short-lived as a clearance by Calvo on the other end went awry and into the back of the net, leaving the teams once again deadlocked and forcing the Loons to dig deep to come back.
“It showed a lot of character,” said Heath. “And I don’t know why — I said to the staff — I fancied us tonight. I thought the lads in the dressing room, the mood in the dressing room before the game, you can sense it when you’ve been in it a long time. I thought the lads were up for the battle tonight. And as I say, it’s against a really good team.”
This plan of attack paid dividends in the 64th minute. Thiesson served a ball into the box from the left side and Attinella came out to punch it away. He couldn’t connect fully with it though, and his weak clearance landed at the feet of Abu Danladi. The midfielder drilled the ball into the goal for his second MLS goal and a 3-2 MNUFC advantage. Danladi’s tally was the eventual winner of the match.
MNUFC will now host Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, June 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET.