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Wonderwall at last: Minnesota United beats D.C. United for first Allianz Field win

ST. PAUL, Minn. — After a pair of draws that left fans in the Land of 10,000 Lakes anxious, Minnesota United FC finally christened its new home with a victory. And for the first time since opening Allianz Field, supporters got the opportunity to belt out their victory anthem, Oasis’ “Wonderwall” following a 1-0 victory over D.C. United Sunday afternoon.

“I’m pleased for everybody,” said MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath. “I’m pleased for the ownership. I’m pleased for the supporters. I’m pleased with the players. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time and it was obviously a relief for everybody. Yesterday, it was all FOX [Sports] wanted to talk about — when would we hear Wonderwall? Which is nice — it’s out of the way now. We can start concentrating on getting our mind on Seattle, because [if] we go and pick three more points up there, that will make the table look even healthier than it is at the moment.”

Miguel Ibarra, whose playing career in Minnesota predates MNUFC’s move to MLS, gave his thoughts on hearing supporters serenade him and his teammates after the final whistle.

“I mean, it was amazing. I think we’ve been looking forward to this day, to hear the fans and the whole stadium sing ‘Wonderwall,'” Ibarra said. “I’m sure everybody had a great time.”

The cathartic crowdsourced concert aside, the Loons’ defensive performance was also cause for celebration. For Minnesota (4-3-2), its victory over D.C. United (5-3-2) was its second clean sheet in as many games. And this from a team that heading into its last two contests was previously on pace to concede 72 goals in 2019.

“[A]nother clean sheet which will please all you lot and stop you writing about it again this week. So that’s good. I don’t have to listen to it again all week. So that’s good. And then obviously the three points.” said Heath, mostly joking with the press in his postgame conference.  “As I said before, keep clean sheets we’ll win games because we’ll score goals. And even though it took one, which wasn’t the greatest goal in the world, but one will be enough if you keep a clean sheet.”

That goal came late, in the 82nd minute, with Minnesota having seized the initiative following Ibarra’s introduction to the game in the 51st. Where D.C. outshot Minnesota 13-10 on the afternoon, the Loons outshot the visitors 8-2 to close out the game. And where that game-winning goal produced smiles in the stands, it also produced smiles in the locker room.

There was some question as to if Loons forward Ángelo Rodríguez — credited with the tally — made contact with the Romain Métanire cross that created the scoring opportunity. Rodríguez was asked directly following the game.

“As a forward, I’ll always say yes,” said a chuckling Rodríguez. “But, yeah, I got it. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s my goal or his — we scored, and we got the game.”

The author of the game’s lone goal wasn’t the only source of controversy, as D.C. United had what appeared to be a goal of their own overturned by Video Review in the first half.

Apr 28, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, Saint Paul, MN, USA; A young fan watches warm ups prior to the match between Minnesota United and D.C. United at Allianz Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The 21st-minute sequence started with a short Loons clearance that produced a shot that forced MNUFC keeper Vito Mannone to parry the ball out wide. When the ball was sent back in, Mannone attempted to come and claim the cross, but didn’t get any part of the ball ahead of DCU’s Donovan Pines heading it in. Immediately, Mannone appealed to referee Nima Saghafi.

“I couldn’t jump. Basically, I jumped and [Frédéric Brillant] completely focused on me and [Pines] was free to to make the header,” Mannone said. “I said to the ref ‘Go and check it,’ because I’ve been fouled and I couldn’t jump off. It’s not a 50-50 where you you go up with a header and you lose the challenge. It’s somebody else in the box that did that, so obviously I thought it was a foul.”

Review confirmed that Brillant impeded Mannone, and the score remained 0-0 going into halftime.

On a day where most of the important breaks went in the Loons’ favor, there was one lingering cause for concern. MNUFC’s dangerman, attacking midfielder Darwin Qunitero, picked up a knock to his left ankle. A cortisone shot at halftime wasn’t sufficient to keep the Colombian on the field, which prompted Ibarra’s introduction.

After the game, Heath did not have an update on Quintero’s status.

“Well, we don’t know,” Heath said. “He’s in a lot of pain at the moment, so we’ll see.”

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