The question on every Minnesota United fan’s mind was if they could finally parlay their recent winning streak — three games, which is a franchise record — into success on the road.
The short answer was they could not, losing 4-2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.
The Loons have been putrid on the road this season, going 1-9 this campaign. It’s one of the biggest flaws in a team flirting with playoff ambitions. You can’t expect to win solely at home and find yourself in the postseason; you just can’t. The math doesn’t add up and you force yourself into the impossible position of having to win every game that takes place on home turf.
“The goals were pathetic,” Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath said after the match. “When you concede four goals on the road, you’re not going to win too many.” Heath was also sure to make the obligatory reference to buying more players.
United is definitely culpable for numerous mistakes made. But on the other hand, how phenomenal is Alphonso Davies? Major League Soccer’s most expensive ever export (up to $20 million with add ons to Bayern Munich, which was made official on Tuesday) was unbelievable in the match, scoring two goals and assisting two, thus having a hand in all four his team scored. All this in addition to the 17-year-old making other professional athletes look like they’re playing on ice with no skates. That’s a hockey reference because, you know, he’s Canadian.
Reinforcements. United’s substitutes were easily some of their best performers, so integrating them more fully into the team could prove fruitful. Not to mention, the Loons are still yet to debut their second ever designated player in Angelo Rodriquez, who is expected to feature at some point next week versus the Seattle Sounders.
Starters going M.I.A. We’ll get to Heath’s responsibility for the result shortly, but it’s extremely hard to fault a manager for fielding the same starting XI that just produced maybe the most impressive win in franchise history and is riding a four-game home winning streak. This falls on the players and their lack of mental fortitude to grind out results away from home. It’s unacceptable if this team expects to have higher ambitions anytime soon.
Coach Rating Out of 10
4 — As good as Vancouver was in this one, and boy, were they breathtaking at times, you still have to leave a lot of the responsibility for this one on the doorstep of Heath. This is primarily because nobody should know and understand this team better than him. Therefore, he’s got to know what strings to pull and when to pull them. This was either vacant or off on Saturday night. Though the changes of Romario Ibarra and Abu Danladi did greatly change the game, it was too late. Heath should have seen the need to change the team dynamic sooner. All the warning signs were there to see.
Player Ratings: 1-10 | 10 = Best
(Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Bobby Shuttleworth, 5 — Shuttleworth’s performance wasn’t as much bad as it was neutral. He couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals that were allowed as most of them were one-on-one scenarios. (That fact alone is incredible when you think about it.) Shuttleworth’s standard this season, though, is that he would have normally saved one or two of those, which could have been crucial in United snatching some points.
CB Francisco Calvo, 3 — While his play wasn’t abhorrent by any stretch of the imagination, he also didn’t make any single defensive stops that felt crucial.
CB Brent Kallman, 4 — A lot of times we talk about Shuttleworth being left out to dry by the play of his defense. This was the case for much of the Loons’ defense on Saturday evening as the midfield offered little resistance whenever the Whitecaps countered.
CB Michael Boxall, 5 — Held his own numerous times going up against one of the brightest young prospects in world football and did really well to adapt on the fly and play right back impromptu. Still, all three United center backs found themselves dribbled around more than they’d ever like to see on a regular basis.
RWB Miguel Ibarra, 5 — Was largely anonymous throughout the match and had minimal impact. This was less a fault of Ibarra’s play and more related to how poorly the team moved the ball.
LWB Eric Miller, 3 — Provided next to nothing in terms of forward passes and turned the ball over cheaply what felt like more than a couple times. Also, didn’t close down Yordy Reyna quick enough on the opening goal.
CM Collen Warner, 2 — Vancouver is clearly among the fastest attacking teams in the whole of MLS. This is a matchup nightmare for the lethargic Warner. He can do a job, but his defense and lack of athletic range leave United extremely vulnerable, particularly on the break.
CM Ibson, 3 — Provided one of the most Ibson moments of all time when he attempted to back heel pass to his center back while in his own defensive third. The ball was promptly intercepted and ended up in Minnesota’s net just a few seconds later. The game was still in the balance at 1-0 at that time, so this mistake was beyond reckless.
CM Rasmus Schuller, 6 — One of the few Loons who held his own on the night as his passing was crisp and intelligent.
ST Darwin Quintero, 7 — Really by his standards had a poor night. Multiple times during the game he simply didn’t appear to be up for it. In his defense, his team was losing and losing badly for most of the game. The midfield magician still managed to provide two assists.
ST Christian Ramirez, 3 — This is the type of ghost performance you see from Ramirez when the team is playing poorly. Unlike other strikers, Ramirez provides next to nothing when the players behind him perform poorly. So, on one hand, it’s not completely his fault. On the other, it is because more dynamic strikers can create their own offense and boost their team with a sterling individual performance. It’s concerning for Ramirez that Abu Danladi came on and looked sharp.
ST Abu Danladi, 7 — His speed offers such a different avenue of attack for this team. He also sat in the box and made some nice traditional No. 9 plays, including the well-timed run for his goal.
LM Romario Ibarra, 7 — Provided a lively spark when coming on. Was ready to dribble to create space — something few on this team apart from Quintero are capable of — and linked up play surpassingly well, too.
CM Collin Martin, N/A