It was quite the occasion as Minnesota United returned to MLS action for the first time in four months to produce an epic come-from-behind win against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night.
The Loons looked down and out for a majority of the occasion, but produced an epic finale, headlined by Kevin Molino’s stunning late winner.
Desire. The Loons had every reason to feel completely disheartened as Sporting out-possessed them for the lion’s share of this match. But when they got a glimmer of hope, they snatched it emphatically with both hands.
“Well, you know, the words that spring to mind,” said Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath, “are character, adversity and you know, I was talking to the players… I’ve played over five or 600 league games and the amount of times you win games when you’re not playing particularly well. … And that was tonight.
“But, you know, the running of the players at the end, considering we had not played for four months, was outstanding.”
Conditioning. That may have been the most exhausted I’ve seen Minnesota United in my years covering the team. Credit to them for finding a second gear late when it mattered.
Coach Rating Out of 10
7 — His belief in Molino and his direction of making him the team’s creative force this campaign paid massive dividends on this occasion.
“I think people who know me and know what I think of Kevin [Molino], when he’s fit and healthy… he’s as good as most players in this league,” Heath said.
(1-10 | 10 = Best)
*Players introduced late may get no rating
CAM Kevin Molino, 9 — Molino appeared to be one of the few Loons who was willing to stand up and be counted in this match. His touch and sharpness felt a level above nearly every one of his teammates. It’s no surprise he was United’s best player in the second half and was able to dispatch that clutch last-minute winner.
RB Romain Metanire, 6 — One of the Loons who truly grew into the game. He never looked quite like himself until he caught a second wind later in the second half. Was his more impactful self in the final stretch.
CB Jose Aja, 4 — Did enough to get the job done, but did nothing to suggest that United won’t want Opara back as soon as possible.
LB Chase Gasper, 7 — Minnesota’s best performer in the first half hands down. He looked match fit and sharp on the dribble. His presence waned in the second stanza, but Heath should feel very happy his franchise left back is picking up where he left off.
CM Jan Gregus, 7 — Gregus, like Metanire, was far, far improved in the second half. His set piece delivery continues to be elite.
CM Hassani Dotson, 4 — Not a memorable one for the youngster, but you could tell he knew it. Understandable that some players were going to debut off the break on uneven footing. We’ll give him a pass on this one.
RW Ethan Finlay, 5 — Hustled and hurried as is his trademark. It was needed on a night like this.
LW Robin Lod, 3 — His place amongst the starters will be a storyline for the entirety of this campaign. Put this performance in the “bad” category.
ST Mason Toye, 2 — Offered almost nothing in attack. Thanks to the hot mics in a fan-less venue, you could also consistently hear the Minnesota coaching staff pleading with Toye to push up the pitch, press and offer the team something of value. His replacement, Aaron Schoenfeld, truly seemed to boost the team. Not a good performance whatsoever for a youngster trying to pry his way into the first XI.
ST Aaron Schoenfeld, 7 — Seemed to inject a much-needed verve into the team. He hit the crossbar following a smart touch and was the screening force that tricked SKC’s Khiry Shelton into accidentally putting the ball into his own goal for the equalizer.
LM Raheem Edwards, 6 — Brought much needed pace to the MNUFC attack, which was especially in contrast to who he replaced in Lod. He looks to be a perfect alternative to the underperforming Finnish international.
CB James Musa, N/A — Substituted in the waning seconds of the game for Molino after his game-winning goal.