Minnesota United FC squandered a 2-0 lead Sunday evening, settling for a 2-2 draw against the Houston Dynamo at Allianz Field.
Right winger Ethan Finlay bagged a first-half brace to score the Loons only goals in his second match back since returning from a lengthy injury spell that had kept him out for their past seven matches. Loons head coach Adrian Heath expanded on his admiration for Finlay’s performance postgame, but also expressed his disappointment with the team’s overall performance in the second half.
“I thought we were going to get away with it. You know, we had a couple of moments of quality in the first half,” Loons head coach Adrian Heath said. “But as the game wore on, our decision making got worse and worse as we got tired. And in the end, I was quite thankful that we got a point to be honest.”
Heath expanded that the team had looked like a side that hadn’t practiced as a group in a week, vetting his frustration with how little training they had, how little they were able to speak as a group in person and how frustrating it was to watch the collapse happen.
For Finlay, getting on the scoresheet was a big plus, but the outcome of the match left a sour taste on his tongue.
“The reason we’re disappointed is we expect to win these games, and anytime you’re up 2-0 at home, the expectation is to win,” Finlay said. “This group has a mentality that, you know, we hold ourselves accountable to, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard. So that’s why we’re extremely disappointed, because tonight felt self inflicted. Very, very unbecoming of what this group is and then what we work towards throughout a very difficult year.”
For the Loons, this was their third meeting with the Dynamo this season, and the second time that they threw away a 2-0 lead to settle for a 2-2 draw. Heath expressed postgame that although both matches were under different circumstances, it’s “incredibly disappointing” to lose out on three points.
Those circumstances Heath mentioned include what midfielder Jacori Hayes called a “rollercoaster” of a week for the Loons. Their past two matches, against FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire, were postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases in the Minnesota United player pool. Those positive cases forced the team to quarantine throughout the week, ultimately meaning the Loons had only “two or three” training sessions from Oct 7-17.
Hayes was prompted postgame to discuss what happened in the final 20 minutes for MNUFC, where they eventually conceded an equalizing goal in the 83rd minute.
“You know, it’s hard to say. We haven’t had much training, and it’s striking — it’s a little balance because you know teams are coming in, they’ve had games, and they’ve had rhythm. But you, in theory, you would think we would be fresher without games but sometimes it’s better to just keep playing every day and have that rhythm. Even yesterday, we only trained in groups of five, so it’s been pretty tough on the team as a whole for the past couple of days,” Hayes said.
The draw Sunday evening marked the Loons fourth straight match unbeaten, but a looming problem still exists for Heath’s team. They’ve only won once in their past eight matches, and with the possibility of MLS moving to a points-per-game format for the playoffs due to the unforeseen circumstances that the coronavirus has had on the league, every win is becoming more and more crucial. The Loons only have four more matches scheduled to finish their regular season, but a match game remains as an option with the league and the club working to reschedule the Chicago Fire game that was postponed this past week.
Minnesota United now has six days of rest before they travel to Cincinnati to take on the only team that they’ve managed to earn three points against over the past four weeks.