Loons Draw a Very Winnable Clash With San Jose

Saturday night in San Jose, Minnesota United FC clashed with Earthquakes in a match with playoff race implications. Both sides came in with relatively even strength squads with very similar records and what ensued was a very even match. After early goals, neither side was able to break the deadlock and teams left PayPal Park with 1 point from a 1-1 scoreline.

Coming off a midweek match, Adrian Heath only made on change to his side’s starting XI. Zarelk Valentin replaced DJ Taylor at right wing, as Taylor missed the match due to yellow card accumulation. San Jose also made just a single change, with Tanner Beason replacing Jonathan Mensah at centre back.

After a few weeks of being shut down early the Loons took an early lead, when Emanuel Reynoso connected with Teemu Pukki who scored the opening goal just four minutes in.

“Unbelievable first touch from Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] and Teemu’s [Pukki] movement was outstanding. It’s a good finish, it’s trademark Teemu Pukki,” said Adrian Heath. “We’ve seen him do it a million times and that’s two [goals] in two [matches] now. Hopefully, we can get him on a run.”

Just over ten minutes later, the Earthquakes struck back on a goal from Cade Cowell, levelling the match at what would be the final score.

Following the match tying goal, San Jose dominated the remainder of the opening half of football. The Quakes got four shots off while Minnesota only was able to manage two. San Jose’s Carlos Gruezo and Minnesota’s Reynoso were issued yellow cards during the first half, In the only bookings of the first half.

San Jose started the second half just as dominant as they ended the first half. The Earthquakes Cristian Espinoza and Jamiro Monteiro combined for three chances in just a four minute time period forcing Dayne St. Clair to make saves on each shot.

In the 60th minute, Minnesota United looked to have re-claimed the lead from the hosts on another goal from Reynoso to Pukki. However, following VAR review the goal was disallowed due to a handball. “The referee has given the goal so he doesn’t know. I didn’t make the rules up and I didn’t make ‘clear and obvious’ up,” said Adrian Heath. “That’s what they said: ‘clear and obvious.’ So if you’re going to look at it for five minutes, I’m sorry, it’s not ‘clear and obvious.’

Following the VAR review, the Earthquakes kept the match under their control, nearly scoring a few times and forcing Dayne St. Clair to make multiple outstanding saves. “Yeah, terrific. [He made] a couple of unbelievable saves,” said manager Adrian Heath. The low-down ones sometimes don’t look as spectacular as the ones where they’re in the top corner, but they’re the most difficult ones. I think it was Cade Cowell’s that he hit really well and Dayne [St. Clair] got a big hand on it, down nice and early. He’s certainly earned his money this evening because he’s come up with two huge saves.”

Minnesota United attempted a late match charge to earn the second goal, in the waning minutes of the match. The Loons Hassani Dotson, Emanuel Reynoso, and Ménder García combined for four shots in the closing three minutes plus stoppage forcing San Jose keeper Daniel to make saves on three of those shots to keep the match 1-1 at the end.

MNUFC are 2-0-2 since returning to MLS play following the mid-season Leagues Cup following the draw with San Jose. The Loons will not get a bye week during the International window as they’ll host New England Revolution as one of five MLS matches during the weekend. Kickoff is set for 7:39pm (7:30 listed) at Allianz Field in St. Paul on September 9th and will be shown on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.