Aug 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz (9) dribbles in the first half against Minnesota United defender Brent Kallman (14) at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota United opened scoring with a 20th-minute Darwin Quintero goal and made its lead stand into the 90th minute, but the Loons had to weather the Seattle Sounders’ attack for much of the second half. The proverbial dam broke in added time, and the Sounders poured in a pair of goals to take all three points at the death.
In the 91st minute, a handball committed by Miguel Ibarra gave Seattle a penalty kick, which Nicolás Lodeiro converted.
Six minutes later, 5-foot-7 Raúl Ruidíaz headed the ball over Minnesota’s back line to put Will Bruin in on goal before the forward lifted the ball over an oncoming Bobby Shuttleworth with his first touch.
Advantages in basic stats like possession (63.3 percent) and shots (23-to-12) suggested the final scoreline wasn’t just a lucky outcome for the visitors.
That Minnesota made 29 clearances on the evening was also an accurate reflection of the run of play.
“Obviously, bitterly disappointed,” MNUFC coach Adrian Heath said. “We had opportunities to go two up, and that might have done it, but second half I don’t think we ever really got going.”
Heath used just two substitutions in the match. And while he recognized Seattle was the better team in the second half, he felt there still would be opportunities on the counter.
Once such opportunity came in the 89th minute, when a quick counter by Minnesota saw Ibson play Miguel Ibarra in on goal.
Slowing his run to allow Ibson and Quintero to join the attack, Ibarra squared the ball looking to set up a back post goal. But Ibson and Quintero had converged onto one another’s positions, and a touch by Ibson ahead of Quintero’s shot gave Sounders keeper Stefan Frei just enough time to throw himself across the mouth of goal and make a fantastic save.
Moments later, Seattle tied the game and then went on to score its late winner.
“[Seattle] showed the quality of the players that they have. They’ve been to two finals the last two years. That’s the reason they’ve been there — they’ve got really good players, which it’s taken them four or five years to put together,” Heath said. “Adding pieces of [Nicolás] Lodeiro, and now Ruidíaz.”
Asked if Minnesota expected any movement, in or out, before the summer transfer window closes, Heath replied with, “I hope so.”
Prior to the game, leading scorer Christian Ramirez — linked to transfer interest from other clubs — warmed up with longtime teammates Ibarra and Brent Kallman, who also played for MNUFC in its North American Soccer League days.
Replacing Ramirez in the starting XI was center forward Angelo Rodríguez, who made his MLS debut.
“[Rodríguez] wanted to start and he felt really good. Probably lasted a little bit longer than I thought he would,” said Heath, referencing the forward’s 69 minutes. “He gave us some strength. He had a great header he feels like he probably should have scored, but he lead the line well. He gives a presence up there, which is I think sometimes what we’ve needed.”
The header Heath referenced was a 43rd-minute effort taken from around the penalty spot that struck the post of Seattle’s goal.
“That’s what I’ve come here to do — I come to score goals,” Rodríguez said. “Unfortunately it didn’t go in, it hit the post. But that’s what I prepare for everyday. Like I said, it was my first game. I wanted to score and for the team to win, but that’s soccer. Now, we have to prepare for what’s ahead.”
For Heath’s side, it’s hard to imagine a defeat coming at a worse time: ahead of a five-game road trip that won’t see the Loons play in Minneapolis again until Sept. 22. Minnesota’s struggles away from home this season have been well documented, and the evening’s result moved the Loons down to ninth place in the Western Conference.
Raising the stakes: four of Minnesota’s next five games are against conference opponents.
“Sometimes you make mistakes that cost a game, but now we need to get strong as a team and get our heads up,” said MNUFC captain Francisco Calvo. “I think the second half, for us, wasn’t good enough. I think we didn’t control the ball at all. We gave the ball away to them.
“They have [Román] Torres, they have Chad Marshall. … They were losing, and then they bring them up. So, I think sometimes –– I’m not pointing at anybody –– but we need to score and we need defend well. That’s how you win games, you know? And, in the end of the game, Seattle send the big guys up in front and then they beat us with two headers.”
Asked how Minnesota would rally after such a disappointing result, centerback Brent Kallman was succinct.
“It’s the only thing we can do now, we have no other options,” Kallman said. “We have to start finding a way to win on the road because we have five straight coming up. We have to find a way to start getting results on the road. It’s the only thing that we can do.”