A first-half substitute when starting striker Angelo Rodriguez came up lame Saturday, Minnesota United forward Abu Danladi scored an opportunistic goal with two minutes left in second-half stoppage time and delivered a wild 1-1 draw with Orlando City at Allianz Field.
A tying goal that late — in the 92nd minute — could have felt something like victory.
Or not …
Dominant all night in controlling the play and scoring chances, United nonetheless surrendered Orlando City star Nani’s 70th-minute penalty kick that was the night’s only goal until Danladi stepped forth when his team so needed it.
In a matter of mere moments, United went from defeat to a draw and then nearly back again when a handball was called on Loons rookie Chase Gasper in the penalty box. A review determined an Orlando player was offside, wiping away one last penalty kick the referee had awarded.
Still, United coach Adrian Heath couldn’t help but consider the night an opportunity squandered.
“It’s two [points] dropped,” he said. “Anybody who doesn’t think we deserved something more out of this game doesn’t know football. … I don’t know how many chances we had.”
His team outshot the visitors 22-5 and had a 26-6 advantage in open-play crossing passes (16 in the second half alone). Heath praised his team for excelling everywhere but the field’s “final third,” where goals are created and, more important, made.
“When you get desperate, you put things in the box,” he said. “Thought of coming out the game with nothing was unthinkable. … I always say never underestimate getting a point at any stage of the season; it might prove really valuable moving forward. … We might have got out of jail at the end, but disappointing.”
Still, Danladi’s tying goal sent United home with something on a night Heath didn’t know the extent of Rodriguez’s hamstring injury sustained in the 27th minute. Striker Mason Toye returns from a two-game suspension for Thursday’s game at Sporting Kansas City.
“We’ll need him now if Angelo is a bad hamstring,” Heath said. “You don’t know. Could be four, five, six weeks. Could be two.”
Danladi scored his first goal since April and his first at Allianz Field. It came after teammate Romain Metanire’s long sideline throw-in glanced off United defender Ike Opara’s head and deflected off Orlando defenders before Danladi pounced within the 6-yard box.
“It was a very, very great feeling,” he said. “We really wanted to get three points, but at the same time just happy we scored.”
The jubilation didn’t last. Moments later, Gasper was whistled for a handball and another penalty shot was awarded before the review ruled otherwise.
“That’s the MLS,” Opara said. “It was entertaining, I guess, if you’re neutral.”
One awarded penalty kick was plenty for United, which argued against Nani’s. Opara tried to stop him from behind in the penalty box.
“I still want to see it again,” Opara said. “I’m not really sure. I’m frustrated with myself because I thought I got to a pretty good angle. … He was pretty clever with what he did. He went down really soft. Even if it was a penalty, he sold it.”
Despite the draw, United (12-8-6) remained in second in the Western Conference.
“In retrospect, being able to score in the 90th [minute] the way we did, the heart we showed, maybe this point becomes very valuable moving forward,” Opara said.