Minnesota United FC collapsed late after a lackluster start to the second half in Frisco on Saturday. They conceded in the 68th minute, forcing them to settle for a 1-1 draw on the road.
MNUFC had a chance to claim their first-ever victory at Toyota Stadium, and it seemed like it was going to come together after a stellar first half from Loons newcomer Franco Fragapane. The Argentine scored the Loons opener in the 36th minute of play in his debut and helped contribute to the attacking momentum throughout the first half. However, a slow start to the second half allowed the hosts to get back into the match. FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi scored a wonderful left-footed strike into the bottom left corner of the net for the hosts, which ended up being the final goal of the match.
Through five attempts, the Loons still have not been able to find three points at Toyota Stadium.
Meanwhile, FC Dallas fought hard to earn a draw, but their efforts weren’t enough. Luchi Gonzalez’s side still remains bottom of the West while Adrian Heath’s MNUFC sit in 11th following Saturday’s match. There is a quick turnaround for the Loons, however, with the club hosting Austin FC Wednesday evening at Allianz Field.
Here are my three main takeaways from Saturday’s match in Frisco.
Franco Fragapane is legit
Fragapane is going to be a fun playmaker in this league if the glimpse we saw Saturday night was just the beginning for him. It’s important to note, too, that he did not have the chance to play a lengthy amount of time with Emanuel Reynoso — a player who tends to bring the best out of those around him.
In addition to Reynoso, both Jan Gregus and Robin Lod are away on International Duty, two important first-team players who he’ll combine with on a regular basis as well. Fragapane’s first half strike Saturday evening was a good example of what a TAM-level winger can provide to this team. It was a clinical finish and fantastic awareness in the box to pounce on the rebound.
The Loons are starting to look like their 2020 version again
Over their past four matches, they have two clean sheets, two draws and two wins. In comparison, the Loons first four matches of the season saw them go 0-4.
Adrian Heath’s side are showing composure, confidence, and chemistry (as I like to say, the three C’s). The Loons are scoring good team goals, tracking back defensively and playing from the first whistle until the last, something we did not see consistently through the first four matches of the season.
It could be partly due to the introduction of new players Ramon Abila, Adrien Hunou, and Franco Fragapane, but there seems to be a general buzz about the team showing promise once again. However, moving forward, the Loons will have to start closing out matches against bottom-table foes like FC Dallas.
A healthy Reynoso instantly makes MNUFC a better squad
The Argentine Designated Player was not able to start Saturday evening against FC Dallas due to ongoing recovery from a knee injury, but he was able to come off the bench for the Loons late in the second half. Once he entered the pitch, the tempo of the match instantly changed.
The hosts had seemed to be in charge of the game for the majority of the second half, but Reynoso’s second half cameo instantly turned things around. He led what nearly appeared to be a game-winning charge late in the match after some wizard-like footwork in the box, but his finish went wide in unexpected fashion. It’ll be exciting to see him and Fragapane link up in real-time, assuming Reynoso is healthy and good to go for Wednesday evening against Austin FC.