SAINT PAUL, Minn. (Oct. 28, 2020) — Coming in with momentum from a last-second road win in Cincinnati, MNUFC found themselves missing a few regular starters as they squared off with the visiting Colorado Rapids at Allianz Field. Fresh off his hero turn against Cincy, Aaron Schoenfeld started in place of Kei Kamara and Brent Kallman was in the starting XI for the first time since September of 2019. The Rapids came out strong, clearly wanting to banish the bad taste from a thrashing at the hands of SKC, but MNUFC struck first with a Robin Lod goal in the 44th minute. Colorado clawed back with a goal from Andre Shinyashiki, but were ultimately undone by a last minute own goal, handing MNUFC all three points.

Despite a long layoff and the sting of a blowout loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend, the Colorado Rapids came out of the gates brimming with energy. In the first minute, Jonathan Lewis beat out the Loons’ defenders on the right side but fortunately for Minnesota, Lewis sprayed it wide left. In the eighth minute, MNUFC managed to tilt the field the other way, getting midfielder Kevin Molino a look off of a short clearance that was knocked down by a Colorado defender. Colorado, in fact, had long legs all night, getting in the way of plenty of shots in the final third.

As things evened out, the game opened up, with both sides getting decent looks at each end of the field through the first 20 minutes. In the 25th minute, MNUFC had to adjust as captain Osvaldo Alonso went down with an injury near midfield and stayed down, grabbing his leg and grimacing. Head Coach Adrian Heath brought in Jacori Hayes — fresh off a run of games starting in the midfield alongside Hassani Dotson.

Not missing a beat, the Minnesota offense got back to it, with Emanuel Reynoso back in his usual #10 spot. Reynoso had missed several games following a positive COVID-19 test, returning as a sub last game but coming back to the starting XI on the night. His creativity brought a much-needed spark to the Loons’ attack. In the 36th minute, he sprung forward Aaron Schoenfeld with a deft pass. Schoenfeld lined up the shot, but goalkeeper William Yarbrough was up to the challenge.

It looked like the teams would head into the break level at nil-nil — and it would have been a fair first half result — but just before stoppage time kicked in, Reynoso found Robin Lod pushing into the box from the right wing, following a Colorado turnover. Schoenfeld had pulled the defense centrally with his initial run and it left Lod unmarked in the box and drilled the shot past Yarbrough to put the home side on top 1-0 as the whistle blew for halftime.
The Rapids didn’t wilt in response to the goal and began the second half much the way they began the game, forcing the issue and making MNUFC work to defend their box. Their hard work was rewarded in the 69th minute on a deep foray into the final third. Forward Diego Rubio found himself with the ball near the edge of the six-yard box and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair stepped aggressively as defenders boxed him out. But Rubio spied Andre Shinyashiki streaking in from the right wing and shoveled the ball off to him. The winger struck the ball and defender Michael Boxall almost knocked it down, but instead flew into the goalpost as the ball flew into the net to level it at 1-1. Fortunately, Boxall — who’s played every single minute this season — was back up and at it quickly.

Almost immediately off the restart, the Loons got a good opportunity to pull back in front. Defender Bakaye Dibassy — filling it at left back for Chase Gasper — rampaged up the left wing and centered the ball to Molino. The midfielder slotted a shot that banged off the woodwork before bouncing back out. The recycled ball was sent back in and off Lalas Abubakar for a corner that ultimately came to naught.

Seeking a different look, Heath went to his bench in the 82nd minute, bringing Raheem Edwards in for Aaron Schoenfeld and Marlon Hairston for Jacori Hayes. The move proved fortuitous in the 88th minute. Midfielder Ethan Finlay got the ball down the right side on a through ball and barreled up the pitch. Spying Edwards on a run directly between the centerbacks, Finlay sent in a dangerous cross straight for the midfielder-cum-striker. The pass forced Abubakar into a headed attempt to clear the ball over the bar, but instead he sent it with precision into the back of the net for an own goal. The goal put the Loons back on top 2-1 with only minutes to play.

Colorado did not give up, though, forcing MNUFC into some last ditch defending, especially in the 94th minute as the Rapids mounted a strong attack down the right that forced St. Clair into a difficult save that bounced loose and stayed in bounds. Eventually, Minnesota’s defense blocked another shot and cleared it. Minnesota’s staunch defense through the dying minutes held serve and the Loons walked away with their second straight win for the first time since September 9.

BELL BANK MAN OF THE MATCH: Midfielder Robin Lod GOAL BREAKDOWN

  • 44′ | Reynoso finds Lod wide open pushing into the box from the right wing and he drills the shot hard past Yarbrough. Schoenfeld pulled the defender centrally. 1-0
  • 69’ | Rubio gets the ball in front of goal and St. Clair comes out to challenge him. He shovels it off to Shinkyashiki, who drills it past Boxall, who goes sliding into the goalpost. 1-1
  • 88′ | Ethan Finlay blazes down the right side and fires in the cross, aiming for Raheem Edwards, but Abubakar tried to clear it and instead heads it in. 2-1
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KDUZ/KARP/KGLB Sports Director, Play by Play Announcer, On Air Personality, and Community Calendar editor

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