The attacking front four of Emanuel Reynoso, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay and Robin Lod were on display Sunday evening at Allianz Field, where Minnesota United FC clinched a home playoff game in the final matchday of the regular season in a 3-0 win over FC Dallas.
A brace from Molino, a first MNUFC goal for Reynoso and a hat trick of assists from Lod proved to be too much for the visiting side. With an injury list piling up and multiple players unavailable due to COVID-19 implications, Loons manager Adrian Heath had to think outside the box with his lineup for the evening. With no healthy strikers available, Lod stepped up at the Loons No. 9 for the evening — a position he had never played before.
Heath’s praise for the front four came postgame when he talked about how he knew he could count on them to not only get the job done, but to know that they would lead the core of the team in the moment.
“A fit and healthy Kevin Molino is as good as anybody in the league. I honestly believe that. When he’s fit and healthy. I think that’s his 18th, 19th game of the year. When he plays, he has something different. But the one thing I did know, with the changes that we made, that they were all on the same wavelength. Robin Lod, Ethan [Finlay] and Kev and Rey [Emanuel Reynoso],” Heath said. “You know, I’ve seen all that little tiki-taka play around the penalty area in training for the last few months. So, I wasn’t concerned about that. I was more concerned about how we’re going to get through it because of the reasons I mentioned, about fitness levels, et cetera. That group, when they play, they’re as good as anybody.”
The four combined to create over 16 shots together, while helping the Loons midfield tally a total of 53% possession over the entirety of the match. The Loons went into the halftime break with a narrow 1-0 lead, but came out of the break with fire in their eyes, adding their second just two minutes into the 2nd half through Reynoso. It was Reynoso’s first goal as a Loon, bringing his scoresheet total to 7 assists and 1 goal over the course of 827 minutes in his first season in MLS. His performances in Minnesota have landed him on the ballot for “MLS Newcomer of the Year,” an award that Reynoso is humbled to be nominated for.
“(It makes me) Really happy. I came to this club to give my best, keep learning from my coach, from my teammates. And it shows the work I’m putting in and the sacrifices I’ve had to make. Really happy for the nomination,” Reynoso said.
For the Loons, the win over FC Dallas extended their unbeaten streak to eight matches — the perfect confidence boost before the MLS playoffs start on November 20.
Following the conclusion of their 3-0 win, the Loons found out that their first-round opponent in the 2020 MLS Playoffs will be the Colorado Rapids, who ended up placing 5th in the West after their narrow 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo Sunday evening. The Loons and the Rapids have played twice this season, with the Loons taking a 2-1 victory over the Rapids on Oct. 28 and then the two teams battled to a 2-2 draw during the group stage of the MLSisBack tournament back in July.
The Loons will be without three players for their first round playoff game against the Rapids due to the FIFA international break. Midfielder and current captain Jan Gregus, striker Kei Kamara, winger Robin Lod and fullback Romain Metanire will all be traveling with their respective national teams. Upon return, each player is required to quarantine for nine days before they are eligible to play. The status of other unavailable players Ozzie Alonso, Michael Boxall and Raheem Edwards are unknown at the moment, but the team expects to know more over the course of the next week.