Minnesota United has struggled this season with giving up late goals, and the team won’t give up a later goal than it did Saturday against Tampa Bay. Rowdies defender Andres Arango scored with the very last kick of the match, giving his team a 1-1 draw in a game that United had led since the 17th minute.
The goal came from a corner kick, and though Minnesota repelled the original chance, Arango headed the ball home after a scramble in the United penalty area, sending an announced crowd of 5,634 home disappointed.
Referee Daniel Radford awarded Tampa Bay a series of free kicks in the three minutes of time added to the second half, and called for the end of the game immediately following the goal — which came just into the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Neither the calls, nor the amount of time added, impressed Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos. “I felt like the end of the game was a little bit of drama created by the referee,” Lagos said. “I think he gave Tampa the opportunity to have a point. I think some of the calls were questionable, and I think the amount of time that he gave was also questionable. It’s not the referee’s job to create the drama.”
Arango, a former Minnesota player who had family and friends in attendance, said he’d never scored with the last kick of a match before. “Call it lucky or whatever, but it’s my old team. Kind of good to get one back,” he said.
United got an early 1-0 lead by catching the Tampa Bay defense napping. After a foul in the middle of the field, Simone Bracalello took the opportunity to take the ensuing free kick quickly — even as one Rowdies player was still arguing the call. Bracalello made a short pass to Michael Reed, who sprung Max Griffin loose on the left edge of the penalty area. Griffin beat keeper Diego Restrepo with his cross, and all Pablo Campos had to do was get a foot on the ball to score his sixth goal of the year.
“People in this league are always expecting me to shoot,” Bracalello said. “They think, ah, we will prepare the wall. They maybe don’t realize that we can play a short ball like that.“
Bracalello, like most of the United players and coaches, felt that Minnesota deserved a win.
“It’s really disappointing, because we were the better team,” he said. “They didn’t do anything. But we’ve got to close the match.”