Minnesota United FC put an end to two troubling trends in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Ottawa Fury FC at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
It also kept another going.
Christian Ramirez’s goal in the 32nd minute for the Loons ended the Fury’s North American Soccer League record of 648 consecutive minutes without giving up a goal. It also happened to be the first goal for Ramirez — the 2014 Golden Boot award winner after leading the NASL with 20 goals last season — since a penalty kick on April 25. It was his first goal in the run of play this year.
But what will stick with the United was its inability to hold on to another late lead.
Ottawa’s Tom Heinemann buried a penalty kick in the 72nd minute for what would be the tying goal in a match thoroughly controlled by United.
This was the fourth time in 2015 that United (3-3-6) saw a late lead turn into a draw. The Loons dropped their spring finale 3-2 at home against Fort Lauderdale after leading 2-1.
“It’s tough,” United coach Manny Lagos said. “It’s a little bit of Groundhog Day for us at home now, where we’re really playing some good soccer and not getting a second or third goal to see a game out.”
Saturday’s home opener for the fall slate was the first of three matches in eight days in Blaine for Minnesota, a stretch Lagos called “huge” for his team to regain its confidence and momentum.
With a steady wind at their backs in the opening half, the Loons were crisp early.
Ibson nearly connected on a header in the sixth minute, and Daniel Mendes had an apparent goal called back because of offsides at the 11-minute mark.
Then came Ramirez’s strike.
Ramirez corralled a long clearing pass from Tiago Calvano up the right third of the pitch, took a step inside the penalty area and drilled a shot past the outstretched arms of Ottawa keeper Romuald Peiser.
“It’s always nice to get back on the score sheet and do my part,” Ramirez said, but he lamented the missed opportunity for his team to pick up a much-needed win.
The United now sits in a tie for fifth in the overall NASL standings. Four teams make the playoffs.
“It’s something that we’ll keep learning from and picking and hopefully [we will] peak at the right time to get into that top four,” Ramirez said.