FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Just four matches into a 34-match season, and Minnesota United FC is already more than a quarter of the way toward matching the league record for goals conceded in a single season.
The Loons lost 5-2 at the New England Revolution on Saturday, making this the third match where the team has given up at least five goals. The team has allowed 18 goals, scoring just six of its own, so far. The record for the most goals allowed in a single season is the 1998 Colorado Rapids’ 69 in 32 matches.
And when it comes to what exactly the continued defensive problem is and how to fix it, United (0-3-1) is, fittingly, at a loss.
“It’s difficult to say,” center-back Vadim Demidov said. “It just doesn’t work for us right now.”
The big loss was a tumble backward, as United was coming off its first MLS point from a week ago. The absence of 10 players — including six former starters — because of injuries, national team call-ups and a suspension didn’t help the Loons maintain any momentum.
It only took New England (1-2-0), which had just one goal from a penalty kick entering this match, four minutes to take the lead off forward Juan Agudelo’s header. United equalized from midfielder Collen Warner’s distance shot in the 15th minute but gave up another goal, to forward Kei Kamara, six minutes later.
Midfielder Lee Nguyen then scored off a penalty kick — Demidov’s second penalty conceded in three matches — in the 32nd minute, and Agudelo grabbed his second in the 41st minute to make it 4-1.
United defender Brent Kallman scored his first MLS goal off a free kick to open the second half. But the Revs earned another penalty kick four minutes later when Warner caught midfielder Diego Fagundez on the edge of the box, and defender Chris Tierney scored on it to end the onslaught.
“I don’t think that we’re asking anything that we can’t do, that’s the puzzling thing,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “We spent most of the week on defensive shape, being in the right spots at the right time. And obviously today in the first half … every time they attacked, they looked like they were dangerous. And some of that was down to our poor defending and our poor positioning rather than really good play from them.”
At the half, Heath subbed in an extra defender in Jermaine Taylor. And while the second half did look better than the first, it’s hard to judge because New England had the result in hand.
“We’ve got to have a serious look at what we’re doing because we can’t keep conceding goals the way that we are at this moment in time,” Heath said. “It’s too easy for the opposition to score.”