As soon as Jerome Thiesson’s outside-the-box shot skipped past Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted, the Minnesota United defender turned and started running up the pitch, flapping his arms.
“I wanted to fly away like a loon,” the left back said.
Thiesson’s mascot imitation came in the 63rd minute Saturday and salvaged a 2-2 draw for the Loons against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at TCF Bank Stadium in front of an announced 19,017 fans. United (5-9-3) sat at ninth in the Western Conference entering the match; Vancouver (6-6-3) was sixth.
Even though United came back from a two-goal deficit after halftime with the first Major League Soccer goals for Thiesson and fellow defender Francisco Calvo, Thiesson’s hilarious and joyous goal celebration didn’t quite capture the postmatch mood.
“I don’t think a lot about goal celebrations because I score goals, like, once in 100 games,” Thiesson said. “It just felt right in the moment. Perhaps it wasn’t because we weren’t winning yet.”
Despite United hogging 73.2 percent of the possession and outshooting Vancouver 17-4, the Loons still couldn’t come out with the victory.
“We lost two points,” coach Adrian Heath said in a fiery postmatch news conference. “We were the best team all evening. Every stat tells you that. But as I said to the guys at halftime, if you don’t want to work the penalty area, you don’t want to put crosses in, you don’t want to run behind. If you want to play a nice game of football, that’s great. I can play a nice game of football. What I can’t do is run and run fast and run behind and make people uncomfortable. And second half we did that, and when we do, we’re good.
“When we don’t, we’re bang average.”
For the second consecutive match, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth gave up a penalty kick that led to a score. On Wednesday against Portland, Shuttleworth ended up going over the top of a Portland player after the ball took an unexpected bounce on the turf. On Saturday, a misplayed back-pass from right back Kevin Venegas to center back Brent Kallman forced Shuttleworth to take down Vancouver defender Brek Shea. Midfielder Cristian Techera sank the kick in the 17th minute.
Another foul led to Vancouver’s next score, after a Kallman challenge gifted the visitors a dangerous free kick near the box. Techera sent in the kick during stoppage time, and midfielder Tony Tchani headed the ball in for a two-goal lead for Vancouver.
Heath came into the locker room at halftime and “had a go” at his players, according to midfielder Kevin Molino, which spurred his team to the tie. But Heath said the Loons can’t keep waiting for him to lose his voice at halftime before playing to their full capability.
Center back Francisco Calvo headed down a Molino cross to score his first MLS goal as well in the 50th minute before Thiesson secured the one point. And while the team captain said he has been trying to score since his first match as a Loon, he was disappointed with the final score, too.
“We need to wake up before he comes in here and screams to us,” Calvo said. “We are professional soccer players, and from the first whistle, we need to go with our minds to get three points.”