FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Minnesota United looked like it had fixed last season’s road woes after back-to-back wins to start its season-opening, five-game road trip, but the Loons have fallen back to earth over the past two matches.
After a bye week to digest a loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Loons dropped back to .500 overall, falling to a highly motivated New England Revolution side that picked up its first win of the season, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Darwin Quintero scored his third penalty kick goal this season, sandwiched between two Revolution goals, as Minnesota (2-2) struggled to create chances and didn’t score from the run of play for the first time this season.
“I don’t think our quality was good enough in their half of the field,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “Our final ball wasn’t good enough. The ball was either overhit or it was underweight. … The first two games of the season, we scored when we needed to, and on the road you need to get a goal.”
The Loons will be back on the East Coast, facing the New York Red Bulls next Saturday before playing their home opener and first game at Allianz Field against New York City FC on April 13.
“Winning on the road in MLS is difficult,” Heath said. “We knew before the season started, it was a difficult start. Now, we’ve got one to go. Let’s go and give it everything and see if we can go and pick some points up, and if we pick up one or three points next week, I think it will have been a good start.”
After making six changes to the starting 11, the Revolution (1-3-1) went ahead in the 10th minute, as Carles Gil sent in a long-distance curler from the right side that center back Jalil Anibaba dived to head in at the far post. Loons goalie Vito Mannone got a hand on the ball but couldn’t keep it from crossing the goal line.
“Different faces, but we still expected them to do what they did — wanting to press forward, wanting to run forward, be vertical, try to put us under pressure,” center back Ike Opara said. “Their new guys, they were really hungry, motivated today.”
The Loons tied it 1-1 in the 26th minute after referee Allen Chapman went to video review and ruled that Michael Mancienne handled the ball in the box. Quintero finished the penalty kick past goalie Cody Cropper into the left side of goal.
Minnesota nearly went in front in the 29th minute off a right-side corner by Jan Gregus, connecting with defender Francisco Calvo for a header in the middle of the box. Cropper made a reactionary save, parrying the ball up off the crossbar.
New England then retook the lead in the 62nd minute after rookie DeJuan Jones sent a through ball up the middle to Teal Bunbury. He quickly turned and sent the ball toward the right post and Brandon Bye slid in to tuck it home.
“You can only take so much pressure,” Opara said. “Their second goal: Terrible shot turns into a great cross. Those things happen when you’re under pressure.”
The Loons had two changes to the lineup as Romario Ibarra (Ecuador) and Rasmus Schuller (Finland) missed the game after playing for their national teams over the past week, while Schuller also picked up a leg injury on national team duty. Angelo Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay made their first starts of the season.
“Both losses we felt like coming in we had an opportunity to get three points and to get zero out of them was a disappointment,” Finlay said. “We have high expectations this year, and that means going on the road and getting results.”