Minnesota United remained undefeated at new Allianz Field after Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Seattle, sparking a discussion whether the team deserves more or less than six of a possible 12 points it earned at home.
The Loons are now is 1-0-3 there against four of MLS’ better teams — New York City FC, L.A. Galaxy, D.C. United and a Seattle team that has reached two of the past three MLS Cups.
The Loons went into the good night Saturday with another draw after it arguably won the first half’s run of play and yet felt lucky to get out of a scoreless second half all even.
United veteran defender Ike Opara’s set-piece header in the 26th minute and Sounders young star Cristian Roldan’s 24-yard blast just before halftime were the game’s only goals, in part because Seattle hit the post with headers twice in succession late in the game.
“It shows how far we’ve come that we’ve been really disappointed not taking more points than we’ve got,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “I think that’s a positive for us moving forward. They’re bringing 10-million pound guys [Raul Ruidiaz] off the bench. We showed a lot of fight, a lot of determination. We don’t take anything out of that game last year, trust me.”
In fact, the Loons didn’t last year, when they gave up two second-half stoppage time goals to Seattle to lose at TCF Bank Stadium in August.
This time, they played to a draw against a Seattle team for which new United captain Ozzie Alonso played these past 10 years.
Opara’s header got him a second bang to the head in the past three weeks, but it also was United’s first set-piece goal this season when he leapt and scored off Jan Gregus’ 30-yard free kick.
Opara’s nose hit the back of Sounders defender Chad Marshall’s head in the process.
“It’s a hard head,” Opara said. “I didn’t even know it because of my nose. Normally, I can celebrate through it. This one hurt. I’m just glad it went in.”
Roldan countered in the 42nd minute when right place, right time he hit a perfect strike that went between the post and diving goalkeeper Vito Mannone’s outstretched arm.
Roldan considers Alonso, with whom he played for four seasons, something of his mentor. They played against each other for the first time Saturday on a night when his former teammates hugged and patted Alonso both before and after the game.
“A lot from everybody,” Alonso said. “I’ve got a lot of friends there. You see after the game everybody come to me. … It’s hard, but it’s part of life, part of sport. They come here to win the game. We do our best to win the game. It’s always hard to play against your former team.”
United started two new wingers, Miguel Ibarra for his second-half play last weekend and Ethan Finlay. Star Darwin Quintero came off the bench for his first time with the Loons because of an injured ankle after he played 51 minutes the last game.
Quintero came on in the 74th minute and created a chance when his chip shot went just over the goal in the 88th minute. That chance came after the Sounders had hit the post twice in succession after second-half substitutions such as big Will Bruin and Roman Torres fielded a team that loomed over the Loons.
“We had the opportunity to win this game, especially in the first half and even parts of the second half,” Opara said. “Then the game flipped on its head and we were grateful to get out of here with a draw. Vito’s got to kiss the post because at the end of the day we got lucky.”
Vito is United goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
“I did,” Mannone said.