Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath calls his beloved football a “funny ol’ ”game, and despite some quibbles over Saturday’s 2-0 victory over FC Cincinnati, the night’s work left him satisfied with the result.
“Last week, we got a point,” he said afterward. “This week, we got three.”
He was more pleased with last Sunday’s home scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake than what he called a sometimes “sloppy” performance Saturday, when an opponent that was 1-5-4 in its previous 10 games possessed the ball 60% of the game.
All that mattered is the Loons’ defensive back line stood firm and steady all night and second-year goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair made two crucial saves when needed.
Kei Kamara scored his first goal in three games with the Loons with a 16th-minute penalty kick, and Kevin Molino came back from injury with a goal as a second-half sub.
Cincinnati has scored two goals over its past 10 games.
The Loons moved for the moment from sixth in the West to fourth, two points behind conference leaders Seattle and Portland.
“That’s football for you,” Heath said. “With a clean sheet, we always have a chance because I think he have enough talent on the field to score a goal.”
Kamara scored the only goal his team needed after teammate Chase Gasper made the sacrifice. He was the one who got cleated on his ankle by a Cincinnati player when Gasper beat him to a free ball near the edge of the 18-yard box early in the game.
Video review determined the play was a foul and deserving of a penalty kick, which Kamara buried deep in the net.
He got his 130th career MLS goal — “I’m not keeping score,” Kamara said — and Gasper got a bloody sock.
“It hurt a lot, but, hey, you do whatever you can to help the team,” Gasper said. “So I’ll take a little scratch on me.”
Kamara didn’t let Gasper’s pain go for naught.
“He took a really big hit. I’m sure it wasn’t easy,” Kamara said. “I just had to make sure it counted. … That’s a fair trade: I got a goal, he got a bloody sock and we got three points. I think both of us will celebrate that together.”
Molino added that second goal that always turns a 1-0 game. He came on for Jacori Hayes in the 61st minute in his first game action because of a nagging hamstring injury since a Sept. 19 game at Houston.
It took him just eight minutes to score his seventh goal this season in all competitions, turning what Heath called spinning playmaker Emanuel Reynoso’s “lovely” pass “of weight” into space into an angled, left-footed shot through the keeper’s legs from just outside the 6-yard box.
“When he’s fit and healthy, he’s a proper player, isn’t he?” Heath said of Molino. “We know that. It’s a good finish. I have had him for over 10 years now and the one thing he does is get as much satisfaction making goals as scoring them. So I was pleased he was selfish and went all the way. At times he looks to play with other people too much.”
The two goals and none conceded provided three points, but even the Loons say they didn’t play as well as the previous weekend.
“Football is one of those crazy games,” Gasper said. “You can really be on one game and sometimes lose or like last week just get a point when maybe we deserved a little more. Tonight maybe we were not as clinical and clean in the attacking third, but did our job defensively and didn’t concede goals.”