Minnesota United's midfield looked a little different on Saturday against Atlanta - not only because of new players, but because of a new formation. Edi Buro, who had yet to play this season for Minnesota, got the start, along with loan signings Calum Mallace and Sinisa Ubiparipovic. It led to a little bit different of a look for United, with Buro playing in front of the center backs, and the other two attacking.
"Tonight we started out with more of a diamond midfield," said head coach Manny Lagos after the game. "A lot of the first season we were doing more of a 4-2-1-3. Tonight we tried to get Sinisa and Edi a little more staggered and Calum a little more to the left - he’s a central tendency player... We wanted Sinisa up a little higher with the forwards - he’s a setup guy, likes to get up there to try to find spaces for the guys who get forward. Hopefully as we move forward we’ll figure out how to make that work. "
Buro was substituted in the 57th minute, in favor of Kentaro Takada, who played more along the left-hand side as United attacked to try to claw back a 1-0 deficit. Until then, though, it was a slightly different attacking look from Minnesota, with Simone Bracalello pushed a little farther forward than normal on the left, ahead of Mallace. It's also worth noting that Mallace and Ubiparipovic made a noticeable difference in keeping the ball moving through midfield, something United sorely needed.
One other note: Minnesota won a number of free kicks in attacking positions, but Bracalello put a number of chances straight into the Atlanta wall. He's been a weapon for the team from those dead-ball situations, but Saturday was not his best game.
Kallman sent off
Right back Brian Kallman was sent off in stoppage time in the second half - a rather weak red card, to say the least. Kallman, who had just argued with the referee about another foul call, tried to kick the ball away from Atlanta forward Kellen Gulley, who was shielding it near the sidelines in a bid to run the clock down. Kallman connected with Gulley, rather than the ball, and the forward went down more or less as if a land mine had blown off his foot, leading to the straight red for United's captain.
Lagos was not happy with the card, which will see Kallman automatically suspended for next week's game. "I don’t think it was a red card," he said. "Yeah, he might have kicked him, but when you’re sealing the ball to see a game out, the defender’s going to try to kick the ball away. I think he went down way more easily than the foul itself, and stayed down."
For Lagos, it felt like the continuation of the July 4 game between the teams, when Atlanta took enough dives that United actually released a video calling out Silverbacks midfielder Pablo Cruz for one of the more egregious pratfalls. "For me, there’s too many antics right now of going down too easily and trying to get the ref - particularly with Atlanta, the last game they were here, there were some tougher moments for us. We’ve got to get over that stuff. There’s got to be more honor in the game."
One signing complete - one not
I mentioned last week that United was attempting to sign winger Omar Daley and center back Logan Emory, both of whom were on trial with Minnesota over the summer break. Lagos confirmed via text that Daley will sign for the team, but that Emory will not. No reason was given, but Emory - who was released by Toronto FC in late June - is certainly looking to play regular minutes, and try to resurrect his career; perhaps United just wasn't able to promise him anything.