After Minnesota United’s dogged but ultimately fruitless performance in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta United on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, team captain Francisco Calvo had a Kanye West moment.
Unprompted about halfway through his locker room scrum, he essentially re-enacted that iconic 2009 Video Music Awards “Imma let you finish” moment, but he interrupted himself instead of Taylor Swift.
“I know you’re not asking me this, but I want to say this: I’m tired of how Major League Soccer gives a lot of credit to Atlanta or LAFC,” the center back said. “Because it’s weird how Minnesota wins, and Major League Soccer [goes], ‘Eh, OK, Minnesota wins.’ But Atlanta wins or LAFC wins, and they make a show.
“I don’t know why. So I think we deserve more respect in this league, all right? I’m tired of that because I think we are, I mean, we are 23 teams in this league. So we deserve more respect in this league. That’s what I want to say.”
Calvo’s frustration is understandable, given the stark comparisons that have surrounded the Loons and fellow 2017 expansion team Atlanta and even this season with new club Los Angeles FC. While Atlanta’s multimillion-dollar offense thrashed the Loons in their home opener last season 6-1, the Loons delivered Atlanta its first loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this past October. On Saturday, a fluky early goal gave Atlanta the lead, and despite the man advantage the Loons played with for most of the game, the home team couldn’t find the breakthrough in front of an announced 18,057 fans who braved chilly temperatures.
The Loons dipped to 2-3-0 while Atlanta improved to 3-1-0.
Just like in that first-ever meeting a year ago, Atlanta struck first in the third minute off a corner kick. Loons midfielder Ibson accidentally redirected the ball on frame while trying to defend, and goalkeeper Matt Lampson made the save. Atlanta forward Hector Villalba headed back the rebound that ricocheted off the crossbar. But then that rebound bounced off Francisco Calvo and trickled into the goal.
The Loons’ luck turned in the 38th minute. Atlanta defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez earned his first yellow card about 30 seconds into the game for a harsh tackle. And just before halftime, the referee handed him his second and thus ejected him after he pushed Loons winger Sam Nicholson out of bounds.
Yet despite that, the Loons could not manage a goal. The team had numerous chances, and coach Adrian Heath substituted forwards Christian Ramirez and Mason Toye in the second half for more attacking power, but Atlanta’s acrobatics helped it evade an equalizer.
Heath said he was “absolutely delighted” with his team’s effort Saturday despite coming out of it with zero points and said this is as pleased as he’s been with the team since his arrival.
Calvo said Atlanta didn’t deserve its victory, as the Loons were the better team the majority of the game and were just having an off night where “it’s incredible how the ball doesn’t want to go in.”
A frustrating loss like this likely won’t change the overall perception of the Loons. But Calvo’s fighting words just might.
“You can say whatever you want, but LA Galaxy gets worse than us last year,” Calvo said. “We were one of the last teams who beat Atlanta in Atlanta.
“This year is going to be different, and the people who are talking stupid things about us, they’re going to shut their mouths off and see how Minnesota is going to do in this league this year.”