In a battle of bottom-feeders, Minnesota United defeated D.C. United 4-0 on Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Loons (last place in the Western Conference) and D.C. United (last place in the Eastern Conference) entered with with just 19 and 18 points thus far this season, respectively. In fact, even if you combined their points they’d still fall short of league-leaders Toronto F.C.
Minnesota United, which ranks 18th in the league with 25 goals scored, entered the game on a 3-match scoreless steak. Christian Ramirez put an end to that streak rather quickly as he scored in the 7th minute. It was Ramirez’s team-leading 11th goal of the season, which also ranks tied for 4th amongst all MLS goal scorers.
Ramirez was set up by an inch-perfect pass from Kevin Molino. Molino was at it again near the end of the first half as he again put the ball on a plate, this time for Abu Danladi. It was Danladi’s 3rd goal of his rookie season and Molino’s 6th and 7th assists.
Miguel Ibarra was the source of the final two goals. United’s No. 10 sent in a dangerous cross that saw D.C. United defenders deflect the ball into their own net. Then, thanks to a clever through ball from Johan Venegas, Ibarra scored the 4th goal with a left-footed strike.
After the match, head coach Adrian Heath praised the performances of numerous players including Ramirez, Molino, Jerome Thiesson and Michael Boxhall. Heath was especially impressed with Thiesson, who missed some training this week and spent all last night in the hospital as his wife gave birth.
Heath said he felt the main positive force that changed the team’s momentum going into this fixture was the new influx of depth. United made three additions during the “Gold Cup window” and Heath noted he’d like to add a few more players still.
Heath said over the course of his entire life in soccer he doesn’t know any better motivator for players than competition for roster spots.
One piece of bad news for the Loons was that Ramirez was forced off in the first half with an apparent injury. Heath said that the team could “ill afford” to be without Ramirez and hopes that the hamstring pull will only hold him out a few days rather than a few weeks.
Prior to the match, it had been an especially busy week for the Loons as they announced Allianz as the new stadium’s primary naming sponsor and that John Alvbage’s time at the club had come to an end.
It was expected that MNUFC would decline the club option on Alvbage’s loan after being usurped by Bobby Shuttleworth early in the season. Shuttleworth proved a viable No. 1 option between the posts and is the cheaper option. Alvbage’s salary number and age are both higher than Shuttleworth, making it an easy decision for United.
It is now official that Minnesota United’s incoming 19,400 capacity stadium will be commercially known as Allianz Field. The franchise is also now publicly stating that the stadium is set to be ready for use come the 2019 MLS season.
The new facility comes with some impressive perks, including the fact that its capacity can be expanded to 24,474. It should also prove to be an ideal home for fans as the furthest seats sit just 125 feet away, while the closest will be only 17 feet away from the pitch. There will also be a “supporters wall” that fits 2,800 and a heated playing surface.