Ethan Finlay left Minnesota United’s 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday disappointed on two levels.
While his team advanced in the MLS is Back Tournament off his two goals, it wasn’t enough for the winger. One, because he didn’t finish off what would have been his first career hat trick, and two, because his team didn’t finish off the victory.
“It’s unfortunate. I think I’ve had seven or eight of these in my career where I’ve had a brace, and I’ve yet to complete the hat trick,” Finlay said. “ … We absolutely played some of our better soccer, though, for the most part [Wednesday], so there’s some positives to take from it. But I still think most of the guys in the locker room are disappointed with the draw against the team that we think we can beat.”
The Rapids were without a point heading into the match, already eliminated from the tournament before stepping on the field. United, meanwhile, could have won Group D with three points but instead settled for second.
United’s goal was to win the game and the group, as every point in this tournament counts toward the team’s regular-season total and has impact beyond just this tournament. But second place has its benefits. Instead of playing another late-night kick at 10 p.m. Sunday, the Loons have some extra rest ahead of a 7 p.m. start Tuesday.
The downside, though, is they’ll have to face the Columbus Crew SC, a team that’s won all of its tournament games so far by a combined score of 7-0.
United coach Adrian Heath said he’s already pondering the idea of changing his squad’s formation for that game to potentially unbalance the Crew. He had to do that Wednesday night out of necessity, with usual playmaker Kevin Molino sidelined with a hamstring injury. Hassani Dotson started in his place, but the team played without a usual No. 10, instead using a couple different midfielders to create offensive looks.
“I thought they gave us a little bit of stability in there,” Heath said. “Obviously at this moment in time, you’re going to miss the way that Kevin has been playing. Any team is going to miss a quality footballer who’s playing really, really well and is very confident, and that’s what Kevin was.”
Heath added he’s hopeful Molino will recover in time for the round of 16 game against Columbus. He also said center back Ike Opara will not join the team in Orlando for the remainder of the tournament, as he is still dealing with a pre-existing condition that has kept him at home.
Colorado forward Kei Kamara scored first in the 19th minute, taking advantage of a United turnover near the center circle that allowed him to streak unmarked into the box to beat United goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
Finlay scored his first goal in the 36th minute, toe-flicking a Jan Gregus’ free kick in at the near post. He followed that up seven minutes later, another one-touch strike off a Romain Metanire backpass.
Colorado, though, leveled the score from super-sub Jonathan Lewis in the 59th minute after he’d only joined the game a couple minutes before his team’s free kick. United’s wall headed away the first attempt, but Lewis cleaned up with a half volley.
“At the beginning of the season, if you said we’d have 11 points [through five games], we’d be very pleased with that,” defender Chase Gasper said. “However, I think after every single game, we’ve proven to the fans, the coaches, as well as ourselves, the potential that this team has. So although we are pleased with 11 points, we definitely aren’t fully satisfied. We know we’re capable of doing more.”
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.