The Loons might be taking the advice from the musical “Hamilton” a little too literally when it comes to not throwing away their shots.
Because recently, they have hardly taken any.
The 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night was the latest in a pattern for Minnesota United, which has been outshot 95-22 in the past four matches. The Loons had five shots Saturday, and hasn’t taken more than seven in a match in that span. And the most recent time the team won the shot battle was May 21, in a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy, when United had 22 shots to Los Angeles’ eight.
While United eked out a victory in the next match against Orlando City despite having just five shots on goal, opponents have shut out the Loons in the past three matches. That slide has seen United go one-and-done in the U.S. Open Cup and drop back to dead last in Major League Soccer at 4-9-2.
“I don’t think our forward players, our impact players, if you like, have done enough to trouble them,” United coach Adrian Heath said after the Salt Lake match about the lack of goal-scoring opportunities.
Christian Ramirez, the team’s leading scorer with eight goals this season, didn’t get a shot off Saturday. And his other teammates that make up the attacking four — midfielders Kevin Molino and Miguel Ibarra and forward Abu Danladi — each managed only one apiece.
The offensive machine seems to have broken down ever since June rolled around, and it’s possible injuries and national team departures have disrupted whatever momentum or chemistry had been brewing within the expansion team. But while Heath couldn’t knock his team’s effort at Salt Lake — unlike in the 3-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on June 3 — something was clearly off.
“I don’t think there’s a guy in that dressing room that would tell you that was a good enough performance from anyone,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said after the Salt Lake match, per a release. “We weren’t good enough in possession. We weren’t dangerous enough going to goal.”
The bad news for the Loons about this recent run of poor form is that there’s not much time to fix it. United plays Portland — the team that blew out United 5-1 in its first-ever match in March — Wednesday night at TCF Bank Stadium. Then it’s another home match Saturday night against Vancouver. Actually, by the time the leaguewide break starts July 5, United will have played six matches in four weeks.
“The most important thing is that we have watch the film and see what was good, see what was not so good and then we go again because we can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Heath said. “This is not an easy little period for us, but we’ve got two big games coming up at home, and we have to look forward to them with some confidence. And some of our players have been good at home. So we need a big performance on Wednesday.”