Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said his team often looked better than its opponent the past two games, both losses. Midfielder Miguel Ibarra said the team has had opportunities, but just hasn’t put them away.
Minnesota United (2-4) is on a three-match losing streak heading into its match against Seattle on Sunday. Players and coaches alike point to one problem leading to the slump: Minnesota United has been outscored 7-2.
“If we don’t get scored on, we’re going to end up getting three points,” Ibarra said. “I think we’ve had a good season so far, the results haven’t come our way, but I think offensively, possession-wise, we’re doing amazing right now.”
The Loons are coming off an inaugural season when they conceded 70 goals, a record for Major League Soccer. Defender Francisco Calvo said giving up the most goals was embarrassing.
“I hope this year that is not going to happen,” Calvo said. “We are working on it, every day we are working on it, because when we have the ball we are a better team than almost any other team in the league, to be honest.”
Heath said his team has looked good this season, apart from its 3-0 loss against the New York Red Bulls on March 24, which started the losing skid. The team followed up that performance with a 1-0 defeat to Atlanta United. Minnesota United gave up an own goal early and played with a man advantage for much of the match after an Atlanta player received a red card.
The Loons, after a week off, were well-rested last Saturday going into the Portland game, which marked the debut of recent signee Darwin Quintero. The team’s first designated player made his presence felt by scoring a goal, but the team could not hold off Portland’s offense in a 3-2 defeat.
“I don’t think they’ve had to work hard enough for the goals, that’s the bottom line,” Heath said of United’s recent opponents. “I think we could have done better.”
This week the Loons are facing Seattle, which is off to an 0-3-1 start after making the finals the past two seasons. The Sounders earned their first point in their last match — a 2-2 tie with Sporting KC.
“They have a really good team, they play well, they know each other, it seems, for many years,” Calvo said. “We need to be thinking about, who’s in front of us and what we need to do to get three points this weekend.”
The Loons face the challenge of stopping the Sounders’ top scorer from last season. Seattle striker and U.S. national team member Clint Dempsey makes his return after serving a two-game suspension for a red card. Dempsey scored 12 goals last year, including a last-minute penalty kick goal against the Loons that gave the Sounders a dramatic 2-1 victory before 40,000 fans at Century Link Field.
“They’ve got a lot of quality, so expect it to be difficult,” Heath said. “We’ve proved that we can go in there and cope with the atmosphere, and I expect us to do so this weekend.”
Jack White is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.