HOUSTON, Texas,. (September 2, 2020) — It was yet another blazing hot game in Texas as Minnesota United returned to the Lone Star State to face the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. After shaking up the lineup at halftime against FC Dallas last week and facing the prospect of another game this Sunday back home at Allianz Field, Head Coach Adrian Heath opted to rotate the squad again. New additions to the starting XI included James Musa on the backline, Marlon Hairston as part of the midifield three and Raheem Edwards and Mason Toye up top in the 4-3-3 formation MNUFC has been going to more often. While the Loons began aggressively, pressing the ball and getting more of the ball in the first half, defensive breakdowns and Houston’s blistering attack would not be denied and Minnesota found itself on the wrong side of a 3-0 result, making four losses in a row for the Loons.
Although the big news this week for Minnesota United was the signing of new Designated Player Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso, the Argentine midfielder began the game on the bench after having no game action for five months. Facing a motivated pair of attackers eager to get their licks in on their former club in Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero, Minnesota did their best to step hard to the ball when Houston had possession early in the game. The Dynamo, though, were ready for it, fighting back and getting a good opportunity very early in the fourth minute that was fortuitously knocked down by a Minnesota defender.
From there, Houston kept knocking on the door consistently. In the 15th minute, the Dynamo drew a free kick in a dangerous position just outside of the box and straight on to goal that Quintero drove just over the bar. Quintero threatened again in the 25th minute off a tasty backheel in the box and less than a minute later, Ramirez found space in the box and drilled a shot that goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh was fortunate to save with a timely reaction stop.
In the 28th minute, Quintero at last got his measure of revenge as midfielder Memo Rodriguez held off the defense before cutting his way into the box and dishing it off to the Colombian, who drilled a right-footed shot to put Houston on top 1-0.
Minnesota United’s attempts to gain control of the game from there were consistency short-circuited by an inability to keep possession and avoid sloppy turnovers in the midfield. Whether it was unfamiliarity without their stalwart captain Osvaldo Alonso or fatigue from last weekend’s game or something else altogether, the Loons struggled all night to get the ball through the middle of the field with confidence.
Shortly after the start of the second half, Ramirez and Niko Hansen made way for forward Ariel Lassiter and winger Alberth Elis in the 55th minute. Quickly, the two set to work ripping up the turf and putting the screws to Minnesota United. In the 65th minute, a long ball ahead found Elis on the right wing and he centered smoothly along the ground to an onrushing Lassiter, who finished it smoothly. And then in the 70th minute, Lassiter put the game away after a nifty bit of interplay with Elis through the middle of the park to push it to 3-0.
In the 71st minute, Loons fans got their first glimpse of Reynoso as he came on for Jan Gregus to get his first minutes for MNUFC. In the remaining 20 minutes or so, Reynoso showed off strong chops as far as ball possession and distribution, providing a tantalizing glimpse of his skills and sparking hope that the team’s considerable investment in the 24-year-old will pay off with success in the near future.
But ultimately, MNUFC could not muster enough consistency or coherence to mount a serious threat to the Dynamo, who outshot the visitors 21-13, including 14 shots in just the first half. By the end of the game, the home side had wrestled away the bulk of possession and looked the fully deserving winners of a 3-0 game the Loons will try to put behind them as they look ahead to Real Salt Lake on Sunday at Allianz Field.