FC Dallas defeated Minnesota United 5-3 in Frisco, Tex. Not only was it the Loons’ first loss since the Colorado game before the U.S. Open Cup, but Mason Toye picked up a Red Card.
Our soccer analyst Nic Hallett offers his four takeaways.
1. Loss ends unbeaten streak at 11 games
It’s been a momentous run for Minnesota United these past few weeks. The franchise has broken numerous records and reached unprecedented landmarks, but Saturday night’s match versus FC Dallas was a bridge too far.
The loss is quite understandable when you consider two primary points of context: the match was played in field temperatures nearing or surpassing 100 degrees and United was forced to play a heavily weakened side for this fixture.
The former point only holds weight since Minnesota was playing FC Dallas in Dallas, so you can conjecture that the home team would have a potential benefit considering the comfortable confines, but also the advantage of regularly practicing in such temperatures.
More pointedly, though, it was the eight changes Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath made to the starting XI that clearly had the strongest impact on proceedings. Heath would have felt that he had no choice given the valiant effort his regulars had given to the cause in recent weeks, and rightly so.
It’s night like these that make you understand why Heath has repeatedly clamored for more depth in his squad.
2. Soundly beaten, Minnesota go back in time
Watching this second-string United was like taking a trip back in time. The way the team played — lackluster for long stretches; allowing weak goal after weak goal; generally disorganized — was all Minnesota circa 2016-2018.
Saturday’s result and the way in which it transpired indubitably underscored the massive importance all of United’s recent signings represent. It is abundantly clear that Minnesota would be no where near the top of the standings, as they are now, if it wouldn’t for all the acquisitions the front office has made in the last year and a half. It also serves to highlight how incredible impactful the winter transfer window signings — Ike Opara, Jan Gregus, Vito Mannone, Romain Metanire and Ozzie Alonso — have been to the club.
The way in which United looked woefully overwhelmed in the 5-3 loss also clearly insinuates that the incoming crop of summer transfer window singings — including Robin Lod and Thomas Chacon — are greatly needed.
3. Carter Manley is on thin ice
Heading into the final stretches of this match second-year defender Carter Manley was already in trouble. The young right back is fighting tooth and nail for his place on the roster next season and this game was always going to serve as an important test.
Unfortunately for Manley he was decidedly failing his exam most of the evening — and then it got worse. With the game tied 3-3, FC Dallas continued to launch attacks. A cross was served in to the back post and FC Dallas’ Brandon Servania easily scored as he was left unmarked. Manley was his marking defender and he was now the primary culprit for the game-winning goal.
It’s hard to imagine Heath giving Manley any more minutes this season and considering this is the type of performances we were seeing from the right back a year ago suggests there’s been minimal progression. His place on the roster next season is skeptical at best.
4. Mason Toye makes a rash decision at the worst possible time
The game was over. Dallas was up by two goals with essentially no time left on the clock.
Despite this, when antagonized obnoxiously by a few Dallas defenders, Toye erupted with anger and lashed out with a tirade of physical violence and allegedly spat at an opponent. This is the clearest example of a “rookie mistake.” However, Toye is no longer a rookie and is the richest vein of form in his professional career.
In fact, he’s been so scorching hot lately he’s on the verge of supplanting veteran Angelo Rodriguez for the starting striker position and has numerous pundits clamoring for his possible inclusion with the U.S. men’s national team.
Having seen a red card for the incident, he’ll likely be suspended. This couldn’t be coming at a more inopportune time for the young attacker and United.