Minnesota United played 90-plus minutes and well past midnight local time in 86-degree heat, all for a hard point earned with a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake in MLS is Back tournament play late Friday night in Orlando.
"It's the first time I started a game on a Friday and finished it on a Saturday," Loons coach Adrian Heath said by video conference call afterward. "So that's a new one."
The Loons and RSL each are 1-0-1 in tournament play after Friday's 10:30 p.m. kickoff Orlando time. Minnesota United now is 3-0-1 in MLS standings after two victories to start the season in March, Sunday's 2-1 comeback victory over Sporting Kansas City in stoppage time and Friday's draw.
"Overall, if you said to me after four games of the season we'd have 10 points, it has been a good start," Heath said. "I would have settled for this before we started the tournament, for sure."
The Loons welcomed defensive midfielder and team captain Ozzie Alonso back after he missed Sunday's tournament opener injured. With him back, they started better, controlled the ball more and had better of the chances all night.
"It didn't surprise me we controlled more of the possession because we've got somebody who's outstanding at doing that," Heath said.
Midfielder Robin Lod had two of their best, hitting the post in stoppage time just before halftime after Alonso did the work with a long run and pass. Real Salt Lake keeper Zac MacMath reached low with his left hand to stop Lod's left-footed shot – his dominant one – after a run into the 18-yard box in the 50th minute.
Lod has scored one goal in 14 games since he joined the club last summer.
"Obviously, he's a bit frustrated because he worked really hard to get himself in that position," Heath said. "If he keeps working as hard as he is and training as hard as he is, his goal will be around the corner for sure."
The Loons also got starting striker Luis Amarilla back in a limited role after he walked off the field Sunday fewer than 10 minutes before kickoff after he tweaked his groin in warmups.
Amarilla was a second-half sub who entered in the 67th minute and played to the end on a night when big Aaron Schoenfeld started at striker instead.
"He didn't feel as though he could have gone 90 [minutes]," Heath said. "It was important to give him some time to get his body going again. I don't want to burden him too much and give him too many minutes, but I think it was important to get some time on the field…This sets him up nice for the Colorado game."
The Loons will advance to the tournament knockout round of 16 if they beat Colorado in their third and final Group D game on Wednesday.
"A point was a fair result tonight," Loons goalkeeper Tyler Miller said. "At the end of the day, we control our destiny going forward. We know what we have to do Wednesday to advance."
Uruguayan teenager Thomas Chacon was a halftime sub in the heat and humidity for Kevin Molino and he traded prime scoring chances with Real Salt Lake's Sam Johnson, either one of which could have won the game for his team in the game's final minutes.
MacMath deflected Chacon's attempted chip shot over the goal and Johnson completed a long run without the ball that he finished by just missing wide a chance to convert a long pass into the winning goal.
Heath said Friday that Chacon would soon get his chance. A young designated player who hadn't play a game since he started at Houston last September not long after he was acquired.
"We're going to need all these players," Heath said. "I don't think people who are not here quite understand how difficult these conditions are to be playing, with the humidity, etc. And the fact we've had four months off, people don't seem to recognize that as much as they should.
"Thomas showed little glimpse of what he can do. He will be better for that. I can't remember the last time Thomas was on the field. It has been a long time for him. He'll benefit from the 45 minutes."
Real Salt Lake star Albert Rusnak left the game in the 33rd minute after he went down in a heap not once, but twice because of a leg injury. He is a teammate with Loons midfielder Jan Gregus on Slovakia's national team.
The teams' starters briefly knelt in protest before Friday's game, a statement in support of Black Lives Matter and MLS players' Black Players for Change movements. Alonso wore the captain's armband with George Floyd's name printed on it after Michael Boxall wore it as captain.
The Star Tribune will not be traveling to Florida this month for MLS, NBA and WNBA coverage. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.