Promising first half. From United fans’ perspective, Saturday night’s first half at TCF Bank Stadium would have felt like a dream. The team was nearly full strength and playing in a shape reminiscent of how they’ll likely continue into next season. On top of that, the team played up-tempo, flowing football that saw them cruise to a seemingly ever-growing lead against a quality opponent in the Portland Timbers. Those 45 minutes are precisely what Adrian Heath is hoping to bottle and unleash in 2019.
Complacency. It’s hard not to relax when you have a substantial lead on an opponent, but when you’re Minnesota United and you’ve never even sniffed the playoffs or a winning season, you definitely have much less of an excuse for easing off the pedal.
Coach Rating Out of 10
8 — Heath appeared to get his team selection and formation utterly spot on as they thrashed their way into a 3-0 lead. The second half provided a different story, however, as it once again raised concerns about Minnesota’s defensive fragility. The first half showed glimpses of where Heath could potentially get United, which is high-flying and rampant going forward. But the second half reminds everyone of how they might fall short, lacking enough quality and a frail defense.
Credit to Heath, who said after the match his message to his team is to squeeze everything they possibly can out of their remaining five games. He said the performances in those games will be crucial to who retains roster spots next season.
Player Ratings (1-10 — 10 = Best)
*Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.
GK Bobby Shuttleworth, 8 — Looking like he’s back to his old self, Shuttleworth made two vital saves in the second half that ensured United walked away with all three points.
LB Francisco Calvo, 6.5 — As we’ve discussed at length on the Minnesota Soccer Podcast, left back is far and away a much better position for the Costa Rican compared to centerback. He looked solid throughout but didn’t have as many brilliant moments as he’s capable of.
CB Brent Kallman, 8 — His steadiness at the back has been commendable throughout the season. As of late, he’s reading play exceptionally well as he seems to find a way to get his head to almost every ball in his vicinity.
CB Michael Boxall, 7 — Scored a smashing goal when he thundered home a corner kick. It didn’t appear to be that crucial at the time, but it ended up being the winning tally. He and Kallman partnered well and look comfortable together, fairly likely this is the centerback duo heading into Allianz Field.
RB Eric Miller, 5 — Miller had a quiet match by almost any measure. Though he must be given a plus for providing stability at one of United’s most trouble-stricken positions.
CM Rasmus Schuller, 7 — As has been written in this space previously, he can function exceptionally well as a cog of a good team but will struggle to cope if thrust into a more prominent role. His link-up play was delightful throughout the match.
CM Fernando Bob, 8 — Continues to exude class on the ball that stands out because it’s been in criminally short supply for Minnesota United thus far in its MLS tenure. His pass that led to the opening goal was one of the balls of the season — sublime. His red card appeared to be soft and the result of theatrical flop by Diego Valeri.
CM Maximiano, 6 — Finally looks relatively settled with his place in the team. That said, I’m not entirely convinced and offer two major caveats to this rating: a lot of players might look better playing next to Fernando Bob, and Portland was putrid in the first half on Saturday.
LW Miguel Ibarra, 7 — For so much of this campaign we’ve lauded Miguel’s consistency and stamina as his top attributes. As of late, though, he’s starting to provide top notch movement to his play, which has made him, and the team by proxy, even more dynamic.
RW Darwin Quintero, 9 — Devastating on the dribble — basically, if he’s one on one, he can beat any defender in the MLS. Not many players, even some of the other MLS All Stars, can say that. Also provided two fantastic assists in the first half.
ST Romario Ibarra, 8 — Has been utilized by Heath as an impromptu striker as of late and it seems to suit him well. This is obviously ideal considering Abu Danladi’s injury woes. Impressively, Romario demonstrated striker qualities — finishing, movement and hold up play — in the first half in addition to his known winger abilities — dribbling prowess and speed. He also took his second goal superbly well. Unfortunate he appeared to pull his hamstring.
ST Ángelo Rodríguez, 4 — United was completely different in the second half, creating far less going forward and thus providing Rodriquez with minimal service. Regardless, he struggled to have a noticeable impact on proceedings.
CM Collen Warner, N/A