Minnesota United Guts Out First Point In 2-2 Draw At Colorado Rapids

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Via Last Word On Soccer, by Matt Pollard

COMMERCE CITY, CO (March 18, 2017) – Thanks to two second half goals and some defending down a man, Minnesota United gutted out a draw at Colorado. The Colorado Rapids had goals from their young attachers, but were not able to go ahead despite the man advantage.

Minnesota United Guts Out First Point In 2-2 Draw At Colorado Rapids

Lineups

Rapids Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni started his usual first team. Tim Howard was again in goal. Kevin Doyle and Shkelzen Gashi returned to the Starting XI at the number nine and number ten role, respectvely. Bobby Burling started for the injured Axel Sjoberg.

On the other side, Head Coach Adrian Heath had his team in a 4-1-4-1. Christen Ramirez started up top with Kevin Molino at right wing. Miguel Ibarra was at left wing. Brent Kallman started for the benched Vadim Demidov. Collen Warner and Johan Venegas started in the midfield. Jerome Thiesson started at right back.

First Half

The Loons came out on the front foot after giving up 11 goals in their first two MLS games. Christian Ramirez had several good chances, including a great volley opportunity in the 14th minute. The Rapids responded with a few shots chances and corners. They’d ultimately open the scoring in the 18th minute. Rasmus Schüller made a poor back pass that Dominique Badji ran onto. The striker split the center backs to go in on goal and fire a shot underneath goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

The Rapids were energized by the goal. They had better build up late in the half through Hairston. Gashi also got several free kick opportunities, but couldn’t create a shot on goal. Molino and Ibarra were active on the wings on both sides of the ball. Molino was able to find Schüller on several occasions. His best chance came in the 35th minutes, but was wide of goal.

The half ended 1-0 with Collen Warner on a yellow card. Colorado led in shots 5-3 and had 61% possession.

Second Half

Minnesota got a lifeline in the 49th minute. Mekeil Williams shoved a United player to the ground inside the box and head referee Nima Shaghafi called a penalty kick. Kevin Molino stepped up and wrong footed Howard to tie the match, 1-1. The teams traded chances then opportunity struck for Minnesota. Thiesson was able to beat Hairston down the sideline and deliver a cross far post. Ramirez beat everyone to the ball and headed it home to take the lead, 2-1 in the 58th minute.

United’s first lead in MLS didn’t last long though. A minute later, Marc Burch delivered a cross into the box with numbers. Hairston was able to find it through the traffic and head it past Shuttleworth to tie it 2-2.

The teams continued to trade chances until the 70th minute. Justin Davis went in for a studs up tackle on Hairston’s knee and was sent straight off. The Rapids began to throw numbers forward at home and up a man.

Nana Boateng made his Rapids debut, coming on in the 82nd minute. In the 85th minute he made a run towards the box and won a free kick at the top circle. Dillon Serna took the free kick but fired it over the bar. The Rapids last good chance came in stoppage time when Serna found Gordon at the far post but the volley was over the bar.

The match ended 2-2.

Closing Thoughts

It wasn’t pretty, but Minnesota was able to gut out their first point in MLS play. They were clearly the more desperate team at times in the match. They did a good job attacking through the air with Sjoberg out with an injury. This is a much needed point for the sake of their psyche.

Badji and Hairston showed great speed on the chances they got. Gashi and Doyle looked a bit rusty. Boateng made an impact coming off the bench. While it’s disappointing dropping points at home to an expansion team, the new lineup is taking shape with the big money players back in the 18.

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