In back-to-back weeks, a defensive lapse from Minnesota United FC led to a nearly identical goal for their opposition, with both scores proving to be the dagger that shut the Loons out of each match.
Opening weekend, it was Seattle’s Will Bruin spinning and turning Brent Kallman until he stumbled backward. Bruin then just passed the ball across the box for an easy tap-in goal to Raul Ruidiaz. Saturday evening against Real Salt Lake at Allianz Field, Rubio Rubin forced a turnover from Chase Gasper, who blundered a backpass. Rubin thereby passed the ball across the 6’ yard box to teammate Anderson Julio for a tap-in goal. Nearly identical goals, nearly identical defensive collapses.
Loons gaffer Adrian Heath said it’s not a trend that can or will continue, and he’ll make the necessary changes to fix that problem.
However, it was not the defensive lapse from the Loons nor the goals from Real Salt Lake that were headline-worthy; it was Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa. Ochoa recently made headlines with the U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying team in March. He began the tournament with an outstanding performance against Costa Rica, but it ended horribly with a goalkeeping error against Honduras that ultimately cost his side an Olympic berth in Tokyo this summer.
He’s going to be in the headlines for a different reason now, though. The young American put on a decent performance at Allianz Field, conceding only once in the 87th minute to Loons winger Robin Lod. However, his goalkeeping performance won’t be the reason either. Instead, his display of childish antics to end the game put his name front-and-center on social media and news.
Following the final whistle, the RSL goalkeeper decided to punt the ball into the stands of the Wonderwall, the Minnesota United supporter’s section. A choice that Loons players, fans, and coaching staff alike did not appreciate. A scuffle ensued, and Ochoa was rushed by Loons players Hassani Dotson, Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall, Chase Gasper, and gaffer Adrian Heath.
After the game, Heath did not hold back on his impression of Ochoa, saying, “He’s got some edge on him for a kid that’s not that good.”
It’s safe to say Heath was not impressed by the youngsters’ performance on and off the pitch Saturday evening.
“Well, there was no need,” Heath said. “They won the game. He doesn’t need to be blasting the ball into our supporters. Everybody knows that’s a no-no. And, normally, when you use them antics like you’ve done most of the evening, you’re normally pretty good. So, that was a surprise for me.”
Heath continued later, reiterating his thoughts on Ochoa: “Normally, when you behave like that, you’ve got a body of work behind you. And, you’re normally very good. So, that was why it was surprising.”
Loons captain Michael Boxall went on further about Ochoa, calling him a “clown” and a “child.”
“He acted like a bit of a clown within the 90 minutes before that and then decides to top it off with that, which is pretty disrespectful. I mean, I don’t know if it’s his first time out on the field or just doesn’t seem like he knows how to behave. I think we wanted to let him know. And yeah, just a bit of a clown, you can tell him I said that.”
Boxall was one of the first players to confront Ochoa after the final whistle and the last one to rip him publicly.
The RSL goalkeeper, who is only 20 years old, could face punishment from the league in the form of a fine or even a possible suspension if MLS deems that he could have endangered a fan.
The two teams are set to meet again on May 29 in Salt Lake City.