Eight times Minnesota United has had a chance to beat the New York Cosmos, and eight times the Loons have come away without a win.
The latest installment, a frenetic 0-0 draw in front of a raucous, franchise-record crowd of 9,418 at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, left Minnesota three points back of New York in the combined season standings, and two behind Ottawa in the fall season. Perhaps more important for future United-Cosmos games, the draw reinforced the idea that whenever the Loons play New York, anything that can go wrong for Minnesota will go wrong.
The second half provided several volumes for the string of Murphy’s law examples that have afflicted the Loons in this series. Twice, Minnesota had the ball in the net for an apparent go-ahead goal, and twice the referee waved off the score. Replays showed that at least one of the calls was incorrect, and possibly both.
In the 69th minute, United winger Daniel Mendes chested down a free kick in the New York area and poked the ball under Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer, but the referee waved off the goal for a nonexistent handball on Mendes.
Loons coach Manny Lagos wanted referee Daniel Fitzgerald to ask his assistant for help. “I think he panicked a little bit and decided to blow his whistle, because it did look like chaos, and I think he didn’t want to get something wrong,” Lagos said. “I think he should have taken a deep breath and relied on his assistant for that one. He was the one that really had the better angle to see that.”
Four minutes after Mendes had the ball in the net, Christian Ramirez did, too, but was adjudged offside — though this time, replays were at least inconclusive. Beyond the two goals waved off, it’d be difficult to catalog all of the chances that United had to break the deadlock.
The tie extended the Loons’ unbeaten streak to eight matches (5-0-3), but another streak — consecutive matches with at least one goal — ended at 23.
The Minnesota defense was solid, quieting New York despite the Cosmos playing star veterans Raul and Marcos Senna in midfield. Walter Restrepo had the best chance for the visitors, but Sammy Ndjock rushed from one side of his goal to the other to make an excellent save on Restrepo’s short attempt to turn home a cross.
While refusing to call it a mental block, Lagos admitted that things just don’t seem to roll United’s way on nights like this. “A pattern’s a pattern,” he said. “We haven’t beaten them in eight games.”
The Cosmos are 4-0-4 against United since joining the NASL.
“We’ve certainly played well enough in a lot of these games to do it,” Lagos said, “but the reality is that we haven’t.
“It felt more like a playoff game tonight. The crowd was really into the game. I think there were moments that we could’ve taken over the game but couldn’t find the goal.”