Unbeaten in their first seven games this season, Minnesota United now has lost four consecutive games after Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Houston.
The losing streak started with the Loons’ semifinal loss in the MLS is Back tournament last month. The three other losses have come since the league resumed regular-season games in market. In those three games, United has been outscored 8-2.
Afterward by Zoom call, Loons coach Adrian Heath called himself disappointed in the result and unhappy his team was outdone in the 18-yard box on both ends of the field at BBVA Stadium. Former Loons star Darwin Quintero scored the first half’s only goal in the 28th minute. Newly signed Ariel Lassiter scored twice within five minutes in the second half’s 65th and 70th minutes.
“That’s not a good combination, and I’m aware of that,” Heath said. “We have to get back to winning ways. The Disney tournament seems like an awful long while away.”
The Loons allowed far too many chances directed at goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh and not nearly enough with a remade lineup aimed the Houston keeper’s way.
All of it dampened attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso’s MLS debut, just one day after he was signed in a record $5 million transfer deal. Designated a substitute in his first game since March, Reynoso entered in the 71st minute just after Heath put benched attackers Luis Amarilla, Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay into the game as second-half subs.
Heath called Reynoso’s brief outing “excellent,” and midfielder Marlon Hairston praised him on Reynoso’s first day around his new teammates. Reynoso wore uniform No. 10 — the number given to his attacking midfield position — and his natural left-footed strike outside the 18-yard box wobbled wide of the goal in stoppage time.
“You can tell instantly what he’s going to bring to the group,” Hairston said. “Today was our first time seeing him, being able to play with him. He’s a different class. We need that. Right now, we’re going to need every guy putting in. All of us have to raise our games to the next level and match what he brought to the game.”
Hairston faced the team that dealt him in the Quintero trade last November and started when Heath opted to go with a new group of attacking players Wednesday. Heath did the same at halftime in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at FC Dallas
The Loons played again without two-time MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara, who has not played yet this season because of an undisclosed reason. They’ve played the last three games without starting goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who’s out all season because of hip surgery. Miller’s replacement, Ranjitsingh, stopped shot after shot Wednesday but still came up three too few.
The Loons lost with captain Ozzie Alonso back home, rested with three games in seven games coming starting Sunday at Allianz Field. Young midfielder Thomas Chacon stayed behind as well after he took a knock in training during the week. Then Heath shuffled the lineup noticeably, both to reward Saturday’s second-half subs and manage a demanding stretch in the schedule.
Once 3-0-2 in regular-season play and atop the Supporters’ Shield race, the Loons now are 3-3-2 but still are third in the Western Conference. They’ve played 11 games total, but only one at Allianz Field.
“We had a good start, didn’t we?” Heath asked. “Now we’re in a little bad patch. … We’re not good enough, so we have to roll up our sleeves, get sorted, have a look around and hopefully put it right.”
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.