It was the icing atop a rotten cake.
Minnesota United lost their third straight game after being defeated 1-0 by the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. The Rapids sit amongst the lowest in Major League Soccer’s standings, but were still able to quell playoff-hopeful Minnesota with relative ease.
After a couple of tough losses where United arguably played well yet earned nothing, this loss seemed to declare a new narrative about Minnesota: maybe its not as good as we thought it was.
United is still clinging on to one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference, but not only do the surrounding teams — Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes — now have a game in hand, what’s more, it’s starting to look like United are regressing.
Our soccer analyst Nicolas Hallett gives us his main takeaways from the match:
1. There was a play at the end of the game that was emblematic of everything wrong with Minnesota United on the road. In the 93rd minute, with everything to play for, the Rapids sent a pedestrian long ball over the top. There were four Minnesota defenders to Colorado’s one attacker. Not only did the Colorado player win the race to the ball, but each Minnesota United defender was standing completely flat-footed as he did so.
As it should be noted, the lone Rapid was Sam Nicholson, who was unceremoniously traded away by United last season. So, you can imagine a fixture like this means a lot to Nicholson. Still, the Loons switched off completely in the dying moments of a game that could prevent them from reaching the postseason.
Utterly dysfunctional, which is also a great way to describe how United usually plays on the road.
2. Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez continue to provide precious little. Quintero looks a shell of his former self as he’s replaced spell-binding skill play with dwelling on the ball and turning it over. It’s by far his worst run of form in a Loons shirt as he’s now gone nine games without scoring a goal or providing an assist. Last season his longest such streak was five games.
3. Angelo seems to be unable to provide any scoring threat unless the ball is handed to him on a plate. As one of the few designated players, he should be able to create chances for himself at least once or twice a match.
4. This squad is far too threadbare to handle being without four of its internationals. Tonight’s woeful performance from United highlighted a problem United has had its entire time in MLS: depth, or lack thereof.
United is battling to even be close to playoff-eligible with its full array of players. Take away four of the top players — Jan Gregus, Romain Metanire, Rasmus Schuller and Kevin Molino — and you have a massive problem.
5. For all reasons listed above, Molino’s value to this team is skyrocketing at the moment and he’s barely been playing.
The team’s primary issue (even in winning results) the last few months has been goalscoring. Behind only Ethan Finlay, Molino has the most proven goalscoring record in the league on the current roster. And other than Finlay, Molino is also the only attacking player to score for United in its last seven (!) games.
With teams likely keying in on Quintero, the Trinidadian’s scoring and playmaking attributes could provide United’s offense the second set of hands on the steering wheel it desperately needs.