The familiar guitar riffs of Oasis’ Wonderwall won’t echo throughout TCF Bank Stadium again for at least another five months.
Minnesota United and its 23,060 fans couldn’t sing their victory song one last time in 2017, as rival Sporting Kansas City marred the closer with a 1-1 draw Saturday. But the team still created its own postmatch ritual to end the season, as all the players and staff took a turn around the pitch to clap to the supporters before coach Adrian Heath and captain Brent Kallman made speeches thanking the fans.
The result wasn’t quite enough to clinch a playoff spot for Kansas City (12-7-12, second in the Western conference), but it did dash the Loons’ very slim one (10-16-6, ninth in the West).
“I can’t fault the guys after today,” Heath said. “I think every one of them has given everything they physically and mentally have got, and they got themselves out of the hole. … I thought they did everything they could to try to win it.”
Kansas City forward Diego Rubio scored the breakthrough goal about two minutes into stoppage time of the first half, sneaking his way through a huddle of United players in the box.
The Loons eventually took advantage of the 59th-minute injury to Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia, who had played every minute this season. Off rookie forward Abu Danladi’s free kick, center back Brent Kallman rose up for an 84th-minute header to equalize.
“It means a lot,” said Kallman, a Woodbury native. “I’ve wanted to score in this building ever since I played the first game here, so I was really glad I was finally able to get it and help us save a point. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to celebrate or anything. I just grabbed the ball and ran back.
“So yeah, I was really proud.”
The match almost went to disaster at the beginning of seven minutes of stoppage time when United center back Joe Greenspan earned his second yellow card and left United with 10 men. But the Loons were able to keep Kansas City at bay despite the late onslaught.
Kallman said the players were “maybe a little sad” to finish their last home match of the team’s inaugural MLS season, as United finishes the season at the LA Galaxy (7-17-8, 11th in the West) Oct. 15 and the San Jose Earthquakes (12-14-6, eighth in the West) Oct. 22.
“We’ve had a good first year,” Heath said. “I don’t think after the first three or four weeks anybody would have thought we’d be where we are. But we know that’s not what we’re after. We want to be even more competitive, and we’ve got a lot of things to do in the next few months. We’ve got two games to play. I want to go and try to win them.”
But that lasting impression from this match for the Loons won’t be the sunk playoff dreams.
“I think the fans have been awesome this year,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said. “You know, they showed up when it was ferociously snowing out, and they’ve supported us when we weren’t playing well in the summer. And I think we’ve sold out the last four games in a row. So it’s been fun, and I know the guys are excited for next season.”