A season of encouraging starts and sudden, frustrating stops continues for the Minnesota United FC soccer team.
Minnesota, down a man in the second half, scored the game’s first goal. But two minutes later, FC Edmonton evened the score and the game ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
United goalkeeper Matt VanOekel reacted to the goal by booting a ball in disgust over the bleacher seats and later blamed, “just a complete lack of focus on our part. We thought the game was in our hands already and people just tuned out and didn’t pick up their marks. We let them dribble right down at us.”
An emotional last-minute victory at San Antonio last weekend left United players and coach Manny Lagos hoping to build on the momentum.
But Saturday’s draw, played before an announced crowd of 3,874 spectators, leaves Minnesota in search of consecutive victories for the first time since April.
“We’re hoping for stuff to happen instead of making it happen,” VanOekel said.
United did show some moxie by scoring after Sinisa Ubiparipovic was shown a red card and ejected in the 62nd minute for kicking Edmonton’s Chris Nurse in the chest after the two got tangled up on the grass.
Down to 10 men for the remainder of the match, United scored in the 75th minute when Cristiano Dias headed in a ball from Miguel Ibarra.
The play came off a corner kick and put Minnesota ahead 1-0. But the lead was short-lived.
Edmonton went hard toward the Minnesota goal and Corey Hertzog buried a cross from Antonio Rago to knot the game.
“There’s a lot of heart on this team but certainly it’s frustrating we can’t get more consistency,” Lagos said. “We have to figure out a way not to give up a goal right after we score. It’s disappointing.”
From there, Edmonton made the most of its man advantage. A shot from Nurse beat VanOekel but hit the post. Earlier in the second half, VanOekel dived to his right to deny a blistering shot from Neil Hlavaty. Such missed opportunities, Edmonton coach Colin Miller said, are why his team has gone unbeaten in its past five matches but settled for four draws.
“It’s definitely two points dropped from our point of view,” Miller said.
Minnesota played without forward Pablo Campos, who was suspended by the North American Soccer League for one match for his postgame actions in San Antonio.