It took penalty kicks, but Minnesota United FC continued its impressive unbeaten run in MLS play this season with the shootout win versus the Columbus Crew on Tuesday night. The Loons were shorthanded in more ways than one, yet were still able to eliminate the league’s hottest team.
United will now face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in the quarterfinals.
Victory. Despite its lack of sex appeal, Minnesota continues to show different ways to grind out positive results. This would seem to be a harbinger of future success considering how proficient their offense looked pre-coronavirus.
Chance creation. It’s easy to say a team’s offense has “dried up” after a 5- or 10-game stretch were the stats become overtly obvious. At present, it feels as though the Loons are bordering on a run of futility. The offense is short of smooth attacking thrusts or clear-cut chance creations. On top of that, offensive studs Luis Amarilla (form) and Kevin Molino (injury) aren’t fully present.
Coach rating out of 10
5 — Seems like he read last matches’ coach and player ratings, because his substituting policy changed drastically. Heath also gets props because he’s clearly carved out a group that won’t be pushed over easily. How you could argue he *hasn’t* greatly shifted the franchise’s culture since the expansion-dark-ages is beyond me.
That said, he gets a big deduction for continuing to force Amarilla into the lineup despite his lack of health or form.
1-10 | 10 = Best
*Players introduced late may get no rating
RB Romain Metanire, 5 — A mild performance from Metanire, who was forced off in the second half with what seemed like a moderate injury.
CB Michael Boxall, 6 — Seemed keenly aware of his grotesque positioning error from last match since he was more cautious and in the right place more often than not.
CB Jose Aja, 4 — Yes, he almost single-handedly had his team ousted from the MLS bubble with his outrageously ill-advised challenge that resulted in the Gyasi Zardes goal, but as I said on the Minnesota Soccer Podcast after the match, I still rate his time as a deputy to Ike Opara highly. He’s been solid and should continue to be trusted by Heath, there’s no two ways about it.
LB Chase Gasper, 6 — Typical Chase: steady as can be. Still would like to see him thrust forward more.
CM Jan Gregus, 4.5 — Got into some good shooting positions, which the team needs him to do on a more consistent basis, but his shot was wayward. Additionally, he rarely made dynamic or incisive passes.
CM Ozzie Alonso, 7 — The ageless wonder. He and Gasper are competing to see who can be the most consistent players on the squad. I fear it will be a stalemate.
CM Hassani Dotson, 3 — Dotson was a Rookie of the Year candidate last season so we expect progression. The next step? Becoming a sure-fire MLS starter. He hasn’t looked like that since Minnesota entered the bubble. So much so, Heath, his biggest fan, subbed him off in the 64th minute on Tuesday. Yes, you heard that right. Adrian Heath used a sub before the 70th minute. Based on Heath’s track record, that’s basically like being a first-half sub for Dotson, which as we all know is a player’s worst nightmare. Worst yet, Dotson’s replacement, Jacori Hayes, looked stellar.
LW Robin Lod, 7 — He loves tournaments! His sweet volley was key and could have won his side the game outright. When he’s in and around the box, he looks like what United is paying for. Outside of that, it’s been lukewarm at best. Heath needs to recognize this and adjust accordingly.
ST Luis Amarilla, 2 — Last match in this space I said: “Amarilla doesn’t look at full speed right now. Hopefully, for United’s sake, Heath isn’t shoehorning him into the lineup before he’s ready.”
That is just as true now as it was then. Actually, Amarilla’s performance on Tuesday was even worse. His passing percentage on the night was 73.7%. For context: 100, 100, 86.7 and 83.3 percent is the success rate of every Minnesota substitute’s passing on Tuesday night. (Percentages in order: Raheem Edwards, Aaron Schoenfeld, Hayes and Marlon Hairston.)
CM Jacori Hayes, 8 — Whoa. Where did that come from? United fans have seen next to nothing of Hayes apart from a few sparing minutes during the preseason. The 25-year-old looked sharp and lively during every interaction with the ball after coming on as a substitute. He looked quicker than the opposition at every opportunity and seemingly never lost possession. I don’t know where Heath has been hiding Hayes, but if this is anything to go off of, he’s another legitimate option among the reserves.
RM Marlon Hairston, N/A
ST Aaron Shoenfeld, N/A
LM Raheem Edwards, N/A