Minnesota United

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MLS Snapshot: SKC wasteful in front of goal, draw MNUFC

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The game in 100 words (or less): Saturday signaled little more than a series of missed chances for the Western Conference’s top teams, as Sporting Kansas City followed up the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 3-0 hammering at the hands of the New York Red Bulls with a disappointing road result of their own: a 1-1 draw with 10-man Minnesota United, a game which the visitors were far and away the better side over the first 60 minutes, and comfortable equals over the following 25 minutes, before creating a flurry of clear-cut chances over the final 10 minutes. Diego Rubio scored his sixth goal of the season to put Sporting KC ahead just before halftime, only to see Brent Kallman equalize six minutes from the end. A late red card resulted in chance after chance after chance for Sporting, all of which went oh so close to snatching three points and moving them to within a single point of Vancouver with a game in hand. Alas, they’ll chase a win in Houston on Wednesday in an attempt to pull even atop the West.

[ MORE: USMNT routs Panama to boost WC dreams in a big way ]

Three Four moments that mattered

45+2′ — Rubio finishes a ball from Blessing or 1-0 — The deft touch from Latif Blessing sets up Rubio, who endured a torrid night last Saturday. Nothing restarts the memory like scoring a goal.

59′ — Melia leaves the game with an injury — There’s no two ways about it: Tim Melia has been the best goalkeeper in MLS this season. No one else is worthy of consideration for such a title. If he’s to miss more than a week or two with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, that’s bad for Sporting.

84′ — Kallman heads home a late equalizer — Abu Danladi floated the ball over every blue shirt but one, Ike Opara, who was expected to mark three Loons on the play. He’s good, but that’s a big ask when the service is this good.

93′ — Shuttleworth denies Espinoza from point-blank range — Now with a man advantage, the final eight minutes of this game were nothing but chance after chance for Sporting. This was the pick of the litter, a header from three yards out that Bobby Shuttleworth somehow managed to save.

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Man of the match: Bobby Shuttleworth

Goalscorers: Rubio (45+2′), Kallman (84′)

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 2-3 Minnesota United

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The game in 100 wordsDown 1-0 and down a man, Atlanta went to work in front of another massive crowd in Atlanta, blissfully unconcerned with it being Tuesday. Abu Danladi scored a nice goal to put Minnesota up, but Hector Villalba nabbed his 13th goal of the season before Providence alum Julian Gressel slashed a Yamil Asad feed home to give Atlanta its first lead of the night. But right when Atlanta looked set to move into pole position for a first round bye, Christian “Stop Calling Up Wondo, Bruce” Ramirez did his thing to level the score and then Kevin Molino turned it into a shock Loons win.

Five moments that mattered

48′ — Danladi stays hot — When Minnesota tabbed Abu Danladi from UCLA with the first pick in the SuperDraft, it was envisioning bullet goals like this (his third in four matches):

67′ — Bad giveaway to the wrong dude — The first of two poor turnovers that led to goals in five minutes, it was Hector Villalba burying his chance:

72′ — Asad, the playmaker — A terrific pass from the Velez Sarsfield loanee was finished with aplomb by the 8th pick in the SuperDraft in Gressel:

90′ — United, Divided — Marking optional for Atlanta, as Ethan Finlay nods a corner in the direction of Christian Ramirez, who does what finishers do by pushing the ball through a mass of Five Stripes players.

90+6′ — Loony finish — Remind Molino to leave these dramatics with his club when he heads to Trinidad and Tobago for a match-up with the USMNT next week.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Kevin Molino

MLS Snapshot: FCD’s winless skid hits 10 in loss to MNUFC

Photo credit: Minnesota United / @MNUFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): Just when FC Dallas think they’ve hit rock-bottom, the fall a little bit farther. Oscar Pareja’s side saw its winless skid hit 10 games on Saturday, with a 4-1 loss away to Minnesota United, a side themselves with all of three wins from their last dozen games. Gone now are the games in hand that buoyed FCD’s hopes just a few weeks ago, as they’re now level on games played with many of the sides presently ahead of them in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot, save for Real Salt Lake (level on points) and the San Jose Earthquakes (one point ahead). Following their sixth loss in 10 games, FCD remain eighth in the West, a point behind the Houston Dynamo for the sixth and final playoff place (RSL play later on Saturday with a chance to go fifth themselves. Minnesota, meanwhile, distance themselves from the 10th-place LA Galaxy and sit just six points behind FCD, having rebounded nicely after an appalling start to their expansion season.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

14′ — Akindele arrives late, slams home for 1-0 — Tesho Akindele waltzed through the penalty area, unnoticed and unmarked, before arriving at the top of the six-yard box just in time to meet Michael Barrios’ cross.

24′ — Ramirez finishes after a beautiful through ball sets him up — Kevin Molino picked the right pass, and played it perfectly (with a bit of help from Walker Zimmerman), and Christian Ramirez made no mistake with the finish.

35′ — Ibarra volleys past Gonzalez to make it 2-1 — Ramirez turned provider on Minnesota’s second goal, lofting the ball into the penalty area for Miguel Ibarra, whose first-time take beat Jesse Gonzalez to put the home side ahead.

68′ — Shuttleworth denies Diaz from the spot — Two games, two saves from the penalty spot for Bobby Shuttleworth.

71′ — Finlay finishes some fancy build-up for 3-1 — Heartbreak on one end of the field, heartbreak on the other end of the field. Anything and everything that could go wrong for FCD, continues to go wrong for FCD.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Christian Ramirez

Goalscorers: Akindele (14′), Ramirez (24′), Ibarra (35′), Finlay (71′), Danladi (88′)

MLS: Danladi’s double does it for MNUFC; CHI lose 4th straight

Photo credit: Minnesota United / Twitter: @MNUFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire joined FC Dallas as former Supporters’ Shield contenders/waning MLS Cup favorites to suffer defeat and extend a horrifically long winless skid on Saturday. While FCD dropped to six games without a win, Chicago fell 2-1 at the hands of Minnesota United, their fourth straight defeat and sixth in seven games. Abu Danladi scored each of the game’s first two goals, the no. 1 overall draft pick’s fourth and fifth this season, as the Loons picked up just their second win in nine games (five losses). The victory, Minnesota’s first away from home since enterting MLS, lifts Adrian Heath’s side three points clear of the Colorado Rapids in the race to avoid the Wooden Spoon (last-place finishers league-wide), while Chicago tumble to fourth after Columbus knocked off FCD to go third.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s MLS roundup — TFC dominant; wild Texas derby ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Danladi hits an empty net for 1-0 — Ethan Finlay did most of the hard work here, getting forward and picking out Danladi atop the six-yard box; all the rookie had to do was not blow the open-net chance.

45′ — Danladi pokes it past Lampson for 2-0 — Danladi had considerably more to do for his second, as Jerome Thiesson’s cross arrived 10 yards from goal and at full-stretch. A tough, instinctive finish.

77′ – Accam gets in behind, makes it 2-1 — Bastian Schweinsteiger was brilliant not once, but twice, in setting up David Accam’s goal in the 77th minute. Accam’s apart, the finish, wasn’t exactly simple, either.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Abu Danladi

Goalscorers: Danladi (36′, 45′), Accam (77′)

Assessing the top moves during the MLS summer transfer window

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While some squads appear content with their current crop of players, others went out and were active this summer in the MLS transfer market.

A little over two months remain in the regular season, and with so many teams vying for a playoff berth in both conferences we saw several high-profile moves to increase their chances of reaching the MLS Cup playoffs.

[ MORE: USMNT huge climbers in latest FIFA world rankings ]

PST takes a look at the top moves from the MLS summer transfer window, which closed Wednesday night.


D.C. adds USMNT’s Paul Arriola

It’s been a really good 2017 for the U.S. Men’s National Team winger. Arriola is looking more and more like a legitimate candidate to make the Stars and Stripes roster for Russia 2018, assuming the U.S. closes out qualifying strong. There’s a number of reasons to like this move, though, from a D.C. perspective. Not only is Arriola a budding USMNT talent, but he’s a young one at that. He’s only 22. Additionally, he gives the Eastern Conference side another quality attacking threat to go along with Luciano Acosta in the near future as the club prepares to unveil its new stadium in 2018.


Orlando acquires Dom Dwyer

He’s only 27 years old and arguably a top 5 striker in MLS. While Sporting KC appears to be content with its options in the absence of Dwyer, Orlando City certainly gained a tremendous asset to partner up front in the Lions attack with Cyle Larin. It remains to be seen how long Larin will remain in a purple kit down in Orlando given the rising interest from clubs in Europe, however, the pairing of these two finishers could be the most deadly in the league once they are acclimated with one another.


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Ethan Finlay to Minnesota

Finlay’s form has clearly dropped off in 2017 from his performances of past years, which signified that this was probably the right time for the midfielder to make a change. His one goal and one assist this campaign are underwhelming given his past production, but the Loons have the chance to now reinvigorate the Minnesota native with an attack in place that’s already pretty talented. Head coach Adrian Heath has pieces in place (i.e. Kevin Molino, Christian Ramirez, Abu Danladi) that will help ease the transition for Finlay, who has shone at the highest levels of MLS. Just think back to 2015. Finlay was an MLS All-Star. He was voted into the MLS Best XI. And most importantly, he had his side on the brink of winning MLS Cup against the Portland Timbers.


Atlanta trades for Bobby Boswell

Why is a 34-year-old center back important for Tata Martino’s side? Experience. Boswell has previously played in the postseason in 11 of his past 12 seasons with both D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo. Atlanta did a good job of adding MLS veterans prior to their debut in MLS this season with players like Jeff Larentowicz and Jacob Peterson, but Boswell not only adds experience but much needed depth defensively as well. There’s no question Atlanta’s attack is elite, and that’s even without Josef Martinez — who has been sidelined due to injury. If Atlanta can strengthen its back line, nobody is going to want to face them come playoff time.


Aaron Maund joins the Whitecaps

It’s surely the least sexy pick on this list, but Maund is legit. He’s become as consistent a center back option as there is in MLS, and while RSL’s poor form hasn’t help Maund’s case for being an All-Star — or even receiving significant notice in general — the 26-year-old can immediately help the Whitecaps in their starting XI and provide Carl Robinson with depth as playoff time approaches.


Special mention

While this club won’t take the field until 2018, LA FC announced its first Designated Player signing this week with the acquisition of Mexican international forward Carlos Vela. The 28-year-old goalscorer currently plays in Spain with Real Sociedad, where he will reside until officially joining the expansion MLS side in January.