Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire netted five goals within a 20-minute span, before the real weather delay went into effect.

Fans took cover on the concourse, with a half-hour to contemplate what had just transpired.

Bongokuhle Hlongwane's play was nothing short of marvelous, but the Fire's second-half substitutions of Xherdan Shaqiri and former Loon Kei Kamara overshadowed the Loons midfielder's second brace in as many Leagues Cup matches. Chicago just needed to hold on for seven more minutes of regulation, plus extra time.

Once the storm settled, the Loons failed to find an answer, though they guaranteed a round of 32 appearance despite their 3-2 defeat. The tournament's group stage lasts through Monday, when Chicago plays Club Puebla. Minnesota's chances of hosting a knockout match depend on that game's result.

An excessive heat warning was accompanied by a severe thunderstorm watch ahead of Thursday's match at Allianz Field.

"I thought we had the game in our hands, but we couldn't protect what we have," Hlongwane said.

It didn't take long for the Loons' 1-0 lead, which Hlongwane initiated off a soft setup pass by Hassani Dotson, to become all but history when Kamara and Shaqiri entered in the 66th minute.

Thanks to a Wil Trapp foul against midfielder Brian Gutiérrez in the box, Shaqiri took advantage of the 69th-minute penalty kick — and just like that, Chicago had momentum.

"The first one's for sure a foul," Trapp said. "I pulled him back. It's a play where he splits through us and I got to do better just closing the angle so he can't get between us."

Unfazed by Hlongwane's second goal four minutes later, the Fire pushed forward against a Loons defense faltering under pressure.

Defender Arnaud Souquet proved opportunistic in the 79th minute, logging a goal on the other end of a cross-box pass that left Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair in a vulnerable position after he dove short of a deflection. Then, only minutes later, Kamara rose up to head in the game-winning goal.

"You're not going to be able to win many headers over him, if any," Trapp said. "It's more about affecting the headers, affecting the jump, affecting the plays and on the third goal, obviously he's free. I mean, we're getting sucked to the ball and he's peeling off our shoulders. Those are moments where you got to be a little bit more aware of where the danger is."

All that action came after a scoreless first half.

With starting right center back Michael Boxall suspended, Loons coach Adrian Heath slid Bakaye Dibassy into Boxall's role while giving Miguel Tapias (ankle) his first start in more than two weeks at left center back.

Outside of the fact Dibassy had performed well across his past two starts at left center back and Tapias' return was a positive development, a problem remained: The last time they were paired together with Dibassy out of position was July 8, when Austin FC embarrassed the Loons back line en route to four goals. But it was Dibassy's first start in almost a year, and Heath questioned whether he was ready to return to big minutes.

"Bakaye did a fairly good job, to be honest, especially on his weaker side," Trapp said.

Dibassy and Tapias appeared to deliver redemptive defense for a majority of the evening, albeit while Kamara and Shaqiri watched from the sideline — and waited to strike.