SAN JOSE, Calif. – Ibson had the final touch of Minnesota United’s inaugural Major League Soccer season after the final whistle blew on the Loons’ 3-2 loss to the San Jose arthquakes on Sunday at Avaya Stadium.
The midfielder booted the ball up and away in anger before walking straight off the pitch to the locker room, skipping the usual postmatch salute to any traveling fans.
The dramatic victory put San Jose (13-14-7) in the last playoff spot in the West on the final day of the regular season. United finished at 10-18-6 for ninth in the Western conference and 19th of 22 teams overall.
“It’s a microcosm of the season. Sloppy giveaways, poor decision-making in our own half and then the ball ends up in the back of the net,” coach Adrian Heath said. “This game for me is our season in a nutshell: very nearly. And that’s what we were this year, nearly good too many times.”
San Jose scored 15 minutes into the match with forward Danny Hoesen capitalizing on a defensive slip from United center back Francisco Calvo. The Loons, though, drew level in the 36th minute off a curling distance zinger from left back Jerome Thiesson. Despite his goal, the team did not make Thiesson available for comment postgame at Heath’s request, with the coach saying he was “fed up” with the left back.
In the second half, San Jose again took the lead off Chris Wondolowski sliding in a low Hoesen cross in the 55th minute after a United turnover in the midfield. Calvo managed some redemption after a messy individual performance, heading in Johan Venegas’ corner kick to equalize once more in the 81st minute.
But San Jose, in the end, had more to play for and scored for the last time three minutes into five minutes of stoppage time from a Marco Urena tap-in. While San Jose cleared the bench in celebration, the Loons stood stunned.
“Heart-wrenching, really. I mean, we fought against the odds to come back those two times and to concede like that when we are trying to hang on for a point,” center back Michael Boxall said. “Just an overwhelming sense of disappointment that we’ve felt too many times this year. I think there’s times that we feel in games that we can play with some of the best teams. And then just far too easily, we come apart and come unstuck.”
The prevailing feeling in the locker room was frustration. Which makes sense, considering United did set a new league record for most goals allowed in a season at 70 in 34 games, surpassing the 1998 Colorado Rapids who conceded 69 in 32 matches.
As team captain, Calvo said he didn’t have any words for his team in the locker room after the season-ending loss.
“No, I say to them before the final whistle, you know why? Because we come here to play well and to win this game because everybody in this country thinks that every team in front of us, they’re going to beat us 5-0 or 4-0,” Calvo said. “We are a good team. We need more players, and I know the staff knows that.
“I know next year is going to be better.”