Last-minute Cincy goal upends Loons at home

Prior to gametime, it was announced that both Robin Lod and Luis Amarillia would both be unavailable against FC Cincinnati due to illness. In a tragic twist of irony, it’s the home crowd filtering out of Allianz Field that would feel even sicker, as a stoppage time goal from FCC found its way into the net, and the visitors snuck out of Saint Paul with the franchise’s first win against MNUFC since entering MLS in 2019.

Optimism was high for the Loons to revitalize themselves and bounce back from their previous late-game loss to LAFC. While the absence of Lod and Amarilla wasn’t ideal, this match felt very much like the kind of “get-right game” that would help wash the bad taste out of their mouths after last Sunday. It also didn’t hurt to be getting Wil Trapp back after a one-game suspension due to aggregated yellow cards. Unfortunately, the ending of this match proved to be a newer, possibly crueler version of heartbreak for a squad looking to get back on track. And, there was no shortage of opportunities for Minnesota United to leave the pitch with a better result.

From the opening kickoff, the Loons embodied the phrase “comin’ in hot” to Saturday night against FC Cincinnati. This wasn’t a total surprise, as MNUFC had the advantage of being the speedier team on the pitch. As they say, speed kills, and the Loons hoped that plan of attack would neutralize any sort of pressure mounted by a Cincinnati squad that had been historically winless against MNUFC since becoming part of MLS in 2019.

Opportunity knocked, and it knocked often, as United had possession of the ball for close to 60% of the first half. There was the Emanuel Reynoso penalty kick from 26 yards out just five minutes into the match, swerving wide right of the goal. The 28th minute of play saw an exceptional through ball for Bongokuhle Hlongwane that had the potential to be the first score of the game, but Bongi was unable to get a foot on it to control the ball from going out of bounds. Or a pair of Reynoso crosses for Adrien Hunou, that saw the attacker be just a step late on each opportunity.

While FC Cincinnati’s 5-back defensive line refused to let those opportunities find their way into the net, its attack eventually got some first half footing too. But, Dayne St. Clair once again proved to be master of his domain, stepping in to swat away any and all shots that came his way in the first, and most, of the second half of action.

While the second half saw more opportunities to put the biscuit in the basket, FC Cincinnati stepped up their attack to produce more chances like the ones United had seen throughout the match. Coach Adrian Heath didn’t wait long into the second half to try and get the squad over scoring hump, subbing Franco Fragapane for Adrien Hunou in the 56th minute. As for why the move to sub came early in the second half, Coach Heath was looking to maintain that speed the team started out with.
“I was trying to get a goal and I thought maybe putting Abu’s pace through the middle might cause them a little bit more than Adrien’s movement and general play because the three center backs are big, very uncompromising and I felt we might be able to stretch it with a little bit more pace so we had changed it around halfway and put Abu through the middle to see if that would help us unlock the door.”

In the 64th minute, that move nearly paid its due, with nearly corralled a back post corner kick, the kick ricocheted off his foot and landed out for a goal kick. Both attacks made their way up and down the pitch, neither defense wanted to flinch as the minutes ticked away. In the 75th minute, St Clair once again laid out for a brilliant save to keep things even still.

And, just for good measure, St Clair followed the play with another incredible save in the 85th minute, with the clock running down to what many watching assumed would be a 0-0 finish.

But, in the thick of stoppage time, all those opportunities were washed from everyone’s memory, with Cincinnati striking an improbable late goal, breaking the hearts of the Loon faithful just before they made their way to the exits.

While losing in this fashion is never easy, having lightning strike twice, two weeks in a row, can leave a squad feeling sick about what might have been. In the case of our Loons, it hopefully won’t be a long illness, as they look to redeem themselves this coming Wednesday versus Colorado Rapids, as the round of 32 for the Lamar Hunt US Cup kicks off at 7pm at Allianz Field.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Dayne St. Clair


Minnesota United: GK Dayne St. Clair; D Kemar Lawrence, Bakaye Dibassy, Michael Boxall, Oniel Fisher; M Kervin Arriaga, Wil Trapp (c), Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Emanuel Reynoso, Abu Danladi; F Adrien Hunou

FC Cincinnati : GK Roman Celentano; D Joh Nelson, Ian Murphy, Nick Hagglund, Zico Bailey, Geoff Cameron; M Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (c), Junior Moreno; F Dominique Badji, Brandon Vazquez

Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
U.S. Open Cup Round of 32
05.11.2022 | 7:00 pm CT ESPN+


On losing three points late in the game…

“Well, when it’s as late as that, it’s obviously always a kick at the team but the longer the game went, I always felt it was going to be a one-nil game. They had a couple of chances early on, we had two or three really good chances as well. Just not playing it cool enough in the final third. I’m sure they might think the same but certainly, with the opportunities we’ve had this evening, we should be scoring a goal at least.”

On making a substitution early in the second half and his thought process behind the change…

“I was trying to get a goal. I was trying to get a goal and I thought maybe putting Abu [Danladi’s] pace through the middle might cause them a little bit more than Adrien’s [Hunou] movement and general play because the three center backs are big, very uncompromising and I felt we might be able to stretch it with a little bit more pace so we had changed it around halfway and put Abu through the middle to see if that would help us unlock the door.”

On finding out late about illness to Robin Lod and Luis Amarilla…
“It’s never easy. We’ve had a little bit of a bug going through the club this week. Obviously, Robin [Lod] has proved an integral part of a lot of things we have done over the past couple of years so losing a player of his quality, whether he plays wide or through the middle he generally produces something for us, especially at home and we missed that bit of quality today.”

On conceding late in second straight game and a theme building…
“Not really, not yet we will see. When you are giving corners away and you look at the siz​​e that they’ve got with the three centerbacks they’ve got. And you look at [Brandon] Vazquez and [Haris] Medunjanin; it’s a big group they’ve got. Set pieces we knew they were going to be an issue and then we really never dealt with the first phase and they recycle it and get a good opportunity. We didn’t do enough when the ball goes wide to get out the box and defend the box properly.”

On Cincinnati playing with a back five…

“It’s never easy when you are in a back five, obviously less space, but that creates a lot more space in wider areas. I thought we got out in wider areas first half and didn’t do quite enough with it. Certainly didn’t work their penalty area enough. When you consider the amount of ball that we had maybe halfway in their half of the field. Most systems there’s pros and cons to it. The one there you leave yourself a little bit spare in wide areas. They prepared to do that and we didn’t make enough of our numerical advantage in wider areas.”

On Cincinnati being a different team this year…

“I can’t fault the effort today. It’s not that the lads didn’t try or anything, I just don’t think there was enough quality in important areas. At the end of the day you live and die by both boxes. Tonight we weren’t in their attacking box enough for the amount of possession we had and then they gave up some quality out there. Dayne [St. Clair] got a couple big saves for us in the first half. Goals change games, you hear me say it all the time. When you get them moments, I’m sure they thought they were gonna rue their opportunities that they had in the first half, but it wasn’t to be.”

On the two big chances in the first half…

“I’ll have to see them again cause it’s difficult when you’re standing where I’m sitting, you can’t gauge the depth of how close they are. They were two really good opportunities for sure.

On how the team had to adapt to the game Cincinnati was playing…

“Less space to run into and when you got that many bodies back like they had, your approach play has to be precise, there’s not a lot of room for error. I watched the game today Tottenham against Liverpool and there’s no space to play in. They did a good job of nullifying the areas we like to work in. That’s part of the game, they decided to do that and they did a good job. They’ve come out with the result, so they were pleased.”


On losing in the 93rd minute…

“I’m kind of at a loss of words. We had some good chances and just don’t think we do enough. I know, I personally didn’t do enough on one. I think we’re the better team and to go away without points there is tough.”

On his first MLS appearance and the pressure he felt in doing so…

“Pressure is relative. You’re in a game and then you have got to put in the work. I’ve played in plenty of games like this, I don’t think it’s any surprise to me what it looks like or what’s going on. I’ve just been patient and obviously still think I could’ve done better today with a few chances but that’s part of the game and hopefully, there’s more to come.”

On the strategy to combat FCC’s five-player backline by getting wide and the disconnect…

“I think we tried to exploit that for sure. I think there were times we made it difficult for them and we got a lot of corners out of it because they’re having to make last-minute plays there, last actions there. It’s unfortunate that one doesn’t go through and we get a good chance on goal.”

On Luis Amarilla and Robin Lod’s absence from the team and its possible disruption…
“I mean, it’s definitely not… you can go back all the way to losing Hassani [Dotson] and everything too. I think when you don’t have the full team it’s different. I think a guy like myself was ready. I wanted to be ready and I knew that my chance was going to come. I think that’s part of being a team. Your number is going to get called at some point and that’s why we have the depth we have.”

On conceding half of the home games this year despite a positive record at home in the past…

“I mean I don’t think that there’s anything to blame. Just whether we’ve been not good enough or the other team has been fortunate, I don’t know. That’s the game of football, especially the MLS. Each team is good enough to take points. I think we definitely need to look inwards and continue to trust ourselves and know that we’re a good enough team to especially win at home.”

On turning around his attacking game…

“I think we set ourselves up for good chances often. We’re a very aggressive attacking team and I think it’s tough to pinpoint saying we’re lacking maybe on goals, but possession and being in the final third, I think we do really, really well. I think the final product is maybe missing or maybe other teams have just been fortunate. I think we make it really, really difficult. I think those opportunities are going to come.”

On his debut…

“It’s nice to get on the field for sure. I think it’s obviously a little sour losing, for sure. I think for me, especially a person like myself, I kind of take it personally. I look at my input and the things that I could’ve done better. I’m pretty upset with the loss and I’m going to go home and look at everything I could’ve done better. I think that’s what everybody on this team is doing, kind of to answer where we’ve been lacking, I don’t think anybody is blaming anybody. I think everybody is looking inwards and I think that’s part of our team as a strength. Everybody takes responsibility and I think we want to do better… We definitely can do better.”

Courtesy: Minnesota United FC