For a second, Minnesota United looked like it was back up to its old tricks: allowing quick goals just after the Loons scored themselves and ultimately letting opponents back into games.
But even after LAFC came back to score a minute after United had taken the first lead, the team never thought that was the beginning of the end.
“It’s amazing. Everybody’s happy in the locker room. They all enjoy playing. You can just see it out there on the field,” winger Miguel Ibarra said. “We scored. We conceded, and we just didn’t put our heads down. We kept going and kept playing our game.”
And the Loons never lost that mentality en route to establishing some team history in a 5-1 victory against LAFC on Sunday in front of an announced crowd of 22,739 at TCF Bank Stadium.
The five goals are the most the Loons have ever scored in a Major League Soccer game, and the four-goal winning margin ties for the team’s biggest victory. The three points also marked a three-game winning streak, which is the longest point run United in the MLS era.
United (9-11-1) moved up to seventh in the Western Conference, one spot out of playoff contention. LAFC fell to 10-5-5, for second place in the West.
Loons captain Francisco Calvo said he has felt his team growing closer in the locker room and becoming stronger together “as a family.” And players might have demonstrated that by their goal celebrations, which featured two scorers jumping into the arms of one of their teammates.
Midfielder Rasmus Schuller was the first to make that display, scoring his first goal for United in the 25th minute off playmaker Darwin Quintero’s assist. That was when a minute later, LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber equalized after the Loons looked disorganized in the box and couldn’t clear the ball.
But striker Christian Ramirez made up for that mistake in the 45th minute, scoring United’s first goal off a set piece this year. LAFC failed to clear Ibson’s corner kick, and Ramirez managed to scoop up the ball and put it past goalkeeper Tyler Miller. And just to ensure that earlier failure didn’t happen again, Quintero scored seconds later, finishing at the far post to give the Loons a two-goal lead heading into halftime.
That theme continued into the second half. Ibarra scored in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, he assisted Ramirez’s second score.
“It’s a long time since I’ve been involved with a team that, at this moment in time, every time that we attack, if we can get Darwin on the ball, we look like we’re going to create or score a goal,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “Virtually every time we’re in their half of the field.”
Now that the Loons achieved their goal of grabbing a maximum nine points from their three home games in nine days, they have to prove those winning ways can carry on to the road, where United has just one victory this season, starting Saturday night at Vancouver.
But for Calvo, who lamented earlier this season about his team’s lack of respect from around the league — especially in comparison to fellow expansion teams LAFC and Atlanta United — he said he doesn’t feel like this result is anything special.
“I want to see what MLS is going to say about it and what the media is going to say about us now,” Calvo said. “For me, it doesn’t matter if it is Atlanta or LA. … We beat Atlanta over there. We beat these guys here.
“We don’t have to prove to nobody that we are a good team.”