Minnesota United dominated New Mexico United 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night at Allianz Field.
Forward Angelo Rodriguez netted a hat trick by halftime.
At one point the Loons scored four goals in 13 minutes.
In the process, they ran their winning streak to six games. They’ve scored 26 goals over that stretch.
Not much to complain about, right?
United coach Adrian Heath wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall efforts Wednesday.
“It was a strange evening I thought because there was a bit of everything in the game,” Heath said. “At times, we looked really sloppy. At times, we looked outstanding. At times, our combination play was as good as you’ll see.”
Midfielder Miguel Ibarra agreed with his coach.
“It was not one of our best games,” Ibarra said “We did go out and perform and make sure we got the win, but there’s little things we have to fix. If we fix those things, we can be a better team than we are.”
Still the Loons continued their offensive onslaught, New Mexico just their latest victim. The last time the Loons didn’t score at least three goals in a match was June 8 in a 1-0 loss to Colorado, which was also their last defeat.
Rodriguez’s three scores paced the Loons, but the trio of Jan Gregus, Darwin Quintero and Ibarra all found the back of the net.
“There was a time when the ball wasn’t finding the back of the net and now we’re clicking,” Rodriguez said through a translator. “The starters, the subs, those who did work in Montreal. All of that is important and it’s going to help us get to the playoffs and hopefully win the [Open Cup].”
However, Heath pointed to the sloppy turnovers and erratic play once the Loons staked themselves to their early multi-goal lead. It was partly why they allowed a Santi Moar goal to put them in a 1-0 hole — a set piece Heath said they saw during film.
The Loons, though, did advance to the semifinals of the Open Cup, the national tournament that pits all levels of U.S. soccer against one another. They will face the Portland Timbers, a 1-0 winner over Los Angeles FC, with the host team determined in a draw Thursday. The tourney winner earns $300,000.
New Mexico United plays in the USL Championship League, which is a level below the Loons and Major League Soccer. The Open Cup involves teams are different levels of soccer in the United States, which better teams getting byes for the opening rounds of the annual tournament.
While there was a blip of nervousness by the 12,401 fans at Allianz Field when facing the early deficit, the home side roared back. By the time halftime rolled around, it was 5-1 United with Rodriguez already earning his hat trick.
Ibarra provided unneeded insurance and the only Loons score in the second half to make it 6-1. It was his first goal since March 9.
“I’ve been waiting for it,” Ibarra said. “Just getting out there and getting the goal is amazing for me.”
While the victory provided highlights and confidence for the Loons, they’ll look to regroup ahead of another crucial Western Conference match against FC Dallas on Saturday at home.
Heath pointed out how Minnesota is just about injury-free after the most recent run of games, and how fortunate theLoons are to be in that position. After a performance like Wednesday — despite all the goodwill — the Loons will work to fix the intricacies.
“If we keep giving the ball away like that to Dallas, it’ll be a different story,” Heath said. “And they know that.”