Its first full week between games since June provided Minnesota United a welcomed break for everybody, except maybe goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Mannone has found a groove in his team’s unbeaten streak in MLS and U.S. Open Cup play that grew to nine games with Saturday’s 0-0 home result against last-place Vancouver.
That groove had him fourth in the league among goalkeepers in both victories (10) and saves (68) before Saturday.
Most memorable in the unbeaten run was his dramatic penalty-kick save in stoppage time that held off Dallas FC 1-0 two weeks ago at Allianz Field.
“Sometimes when you’re red hot, you want games, games, games,” he said. “… Now with a week to prepare again, it’s different. You prepare in a different way. When you have games every three days, for a goalkeeper sometimes it is even better.”
Mannone is one of two Loons — veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay is the other — who has played all 22 MLS games this season.
He and United haven’t lost an MLS game since a 1-0 shutout at Colorado in early June, but they won four consecutive league games and three consecutive U.S. Open Cup games as well before last week’s 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake.
His penalty-kick save that beat Dallas provided three important points in a competitive Western Conference playoff race.
“Football is made of moments, and that’s probably a turning point where we need to take it and transform it into a season-changing moment,” Mannone said. “Seven wins in a row is something that makes you want more and more. That’s how it works. But if you’re not as good now as your previous eight games, it counts for nothing.”
• United veterans Ozzie Alonso and Angelo Rodriguez returned to Saturday’s starting lineup after missing last week’s draw at Real Salt Lake injured. Longtime Loon Miguel Ibarra started for injured Kevin Molino.
• Newly signed midfielder Robin Lod has had his U.S. immigration interview and with some luck could return from Finland and join his new team by midweek to play one or both of consecutive home games against Portland. Just-signed French defender Wilfried Moimbe will have to do the same before he can play.
• Tickets for the U.S. women’s national team’s Sept. 3 game at Allianz Field likely will be sold out before they reach general-public sale on Wednesday. United season-ticket members and those on the team’s waiting list can buy on a pre-sale first.
• Moimbe’s signing fills United’s seven international-player slots, but one slot will open when defender Michael Boxall’s green card is finalized. United coach Adrian Heath said the team could trade for another slot if the right player becomes available before this transfer window closes Aug. 9. “We’ll keep looking to add until the last minute,” Heath said.