MINNEAPOLIS — FC Dallas grabbed three points on the strength of a Roland Lamah header, defeating host Minnesota United 1-0 on Pride Night at TCF Bank Stadium. Second-half substitute Santiago Mosquera assisted on the evening’s only goal from a corner, two minutes after entering the game in the 57th minute.
Both teams entered looking to rebound from disappointing defeats last Saturday, with Dallas having fallen 3-0 at New York Red Bulls and Minnesota losing 3-2 in added time at Colorado.
For Dallas, the challenge was getting a result in the wake of Anton Nedyalkov’s transfer and the shadow of Mauro Diaz’s rumored departure.
With a roster in transition, U.S. U-19 international Paxton Pomykal was included Dallas’ starting XI.
Meanwhile, much of the media attention in the Twin Cities was focused on midfielder Collin Martin’s announcement, coming out as an openly-gay professional athlete earlier that morning.
MNUFC principal owner Bill McGuire took questions about Martin’s statement in the pressbox a few minutes ahead of kickoff.
“The good thing is it’s not a big deal for the team. It’s everyday life,” stated McGuire. “[Martin] is a great guy, and that’s his decision, and he’s happy with it.”
McGuire confirmed the decision to come out on Pride Night was Martin’s decision.
“That’s not something we’d sit around and plan about,” he said. “The underlying issue is, ‘How do we be a part of a community and represent a community?’ And we think that really embodies joint ownership of our lives, and diversity, and support for each other.”
Martin said he has received a lot of support.
“[One] thing I wanted to really talk about is my positive experience,” Martin said after the game. “I have been reading some negative experiences during Pride Month from guys who have just recently come out. I wanted to share my positive experience. This team is awesome. This Pride Night is awesome. My teammates have supported me and loved me for the past year and a half. That is what is important and people need to hear that.”
On the field, the Loons looked to support one another in the face of several key absences.
Since joining Major League Soccer, Minnesota has yet to win a game with either Miguel Ibarra or Francisco Calvo absent its 18-man gameday squad. Both were unavailable with Ibarra serving a suspension for a red card received against Colorado and Calvo yet to return from the World Cup after representing Costa Rica in the group stage.
In addition to the aforementioned pair and a handful of injuries, Minnesota was also without Jérôme Thiesson as the fullback was in the process of finalizing his green card; something that could pay dividends for the Loons in the upcoming transfer window as it would free up an international spot on Minnesota’s roster.
Coach Adrian Heath tinkered with his team’s shape, eschewing his preferred 4-2-3-1 for a 3-5-2 in an attempt to utilize the personnel at his disposal.
With Michael Boxall flanked by Brent Kallman and Wyatt Omsberg, and Tyrone Mears and Alexi Gomez dropping back to provide a five-man back line when defending its own half, Minnesota was effective at stifling Dallas’ attack on a hot and humid evening.
“I don’t remember any dangerous chances they had in the first half,” said Kallman. “I thought the coaches did a good job. We had a good week putting in the plan and executing it on the field. Then we obviously had to go away from it because we were down a goal.”
It required a corner to produce Dallas’ only shot from inside Minnesota’s penalty area, which Lamah converted. Loons keeper Bobby Shuttleworth got a hand to the effort but was unable to parry the ball around the back post.
“It was a constant drill this week in practice,” said Óscar Pareja. “Our coaches work with our players to try to get difference makers in set plays.”
The difference in set plays was stark. Minnesota earned 13 corners but was unable to capitalize, while Dallas need just three to produce a goal.
Chasing the game, the Loons produced a number of chances through some nice combination play, but struggled to put shots on target. Of the 10 shots Minnesota took in the second half, only two were on goal.
“It’s one of those days where the ball just didn’t seem to want to go in,” reflected Loons forward Christian Ramirez. “I know I personally had one that passed barley by the post. [Jesse] Gonzalez makes a great save on Brent’s somehow. Ibson’s barley misses. It’s just one of those days that it didn’t seem like we deserved to lose. It’s tough to continue to say that, but somehow, it’s going to turn around.”
“We had some good opportunities tonight and the longer it goes you always leave yourself susceptible. Another poor goal to concede. Four. That’s the fourth in the last six games we’ve conceded from a corner,” said Heath.
“And football, sometimes you get what you deserve and sometimes you don’t, and that was one of them that we didn’t. I think the worst that we deserve is a draw out of the game. And certainly, some of our play, I thought there were some excellent performances from some individuals. But it’s a tough one to take. But we’ll get ourselves together in the next three days and get ourselves ready for Wednesday.”
In the visiting locker room, Pareja was delighted with the result.
“It’s a great result for us. I thought the boys did a fantastic job in the way we planned and the way we visualized the game. They executed with such great discipline against a rival. We are very content because we saw homegrown players being part of this three points. It’s a big three points. We’re happy for the academy, the club, and the future of our players.”