MN United

Minnesota United 0 - Sporting Kansas City 1: Four Quick Takeaways 

Photo Credit: Bed Ludeman (USA Today Sports)

Minnesota United analyst Nic Hallett breaks down Minnesota’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

Minnesota offense remains abysmal 

Apparently they’re just in one of those spells.

Minnesota United’s offense has been woeful as of late, having scored two goals in its last three games, and — apart from the 5-3 Dallas loss — managed one goal or less in its last seven Major League Soccer fixtures. It’s an abhorrent run and behavior they demonstrated as a team during a dry spell earlier this season.

“Certainly [in the] first half, we had two or three really good opportunities and didn’t pick the final ball,” Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath said. “Just disappointment, I think.”

Heath lashed out at the offense publicly after both of last week’s matches. Thursday must have him feeling a measure of deja vu. Mason Toye returned and scoffed arguably United’s best chance of the match with a poor first touch. Meanwhile, Jan Gregus and Darwin Quintero both misplaced passes in dangerous positions at crucial junctures.

United’s best chance came from Hassani Dotson’s long range shot in the first half, which was repelled well. The rebound fell to Toye, but the angle was against him and the save that followed was assured. When your rookie midfielder’s hopeful long-range effort is your best chance of the game, there’s issues offensively.

As a result, Heath would have been happy with a draw.

“Standing on the sideline, I felt like we were going to see it through, see it out,” Heath said. “It’s a real disappointment.”

Double debut, namely Chacon

In general, but especially considering the final result, the most enthralling portion of the match was club-record signing Thomas Chacon being given is debut substitution. The 19-year-old immediately flashed as confident on the ball and looked eager to create for teammates. Ultimately, though, he wasn’t found regularly by teammates.

This is another one of the primary issues plaguing the offense at present: not getting players the ball in ideal positions. Romain Metanire, an MLS All-Star, isn’t getting the ball in threatening crossing positions like he used to. Toye received less than three passes in behind the opposing defense (and hasn’t necessarily been given loads of service in the games he’s scored in).

Chacon is clearly confident in advanced positions on the left wing. But he received no more than three direct passes in that sector of the field on Thursday.

“Obviously, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the kid, hardly knows anybody’s names,” Heath said. “It’s one of them that we wanted to get him some action. He’s 19 years of age and he’s signed for five years so we’ve got a lot more to see of him.”

Prior to the match eyebrows were raised as Heath handed a starting debut to new-signing Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat at left wing. It wasn’t a disaster and Moimbe looked alright, but it seemed a peculiar choice considering it appeared Moimbe was brought in as the reserve at left back. Not to mention, Heath had Miguel Ibarra on the bench. Ibarra is a natural attaching wide player and has performed well for Heath in the past. This could signal Ibarra’s time at United is coming to a close at season’s end.

“He’s played fullback or wing back most of his career so he’s used to that,” Heath said. “I thought considering he hasn’t played for a long time, I thought that he did well in the first half, got forward, combined well with his teammates, put some good crosses in the box. He’ll be better for having the hour or so that he’s had as well.”

Mannone United’s Top performer until he wasn’t 

Much in the way Chase Gasper stood out amongst his underperforming peers on Saturday night, Vito Mannone was Minnesota’s top performer for much of the night. The former Arsenal man made numerous high-quality saves and looked prepared to hold up his end of the bargain towards earning a clean sheet.

Don’t get me wrong, Mannone has been as solid as can be as the first choice keeper this season and it wouldn’t be a difficult argument to say he’s Top 5 at the position in the MLS. However, it feels as though he should take some of the blame for the deciding goal. So, too, should Michael Boxall who let Erik Hurtado slip in from the backside. But Mannone’s over-eager rush out only seemed to play into the Sporting KC striker’s hands as he buried the game’s only goal.

Mannone’s shot-stopping has been superb all season and tonight appeared no different in any way. Hindsight is always 20/20, but you feel he could have handled the danger by staying on his line.

Possible issues with Darwin’s demeanor

The ESPN crew telecasting the match said there were incidents of United players chastising Darwin Quintero for losing possession. On its face this is not necessarily a good thing. That said, there has been numerous occasions where Quintero has appeared far too casual in possession and it wouldn’t hurt the team if he was held to a high standard by his peers, something I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen a lot of in years past.