Minnesota United FC drew 0-0 with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in its first NASL match of the season. Both teams had several chances to break the deadlock, but top-notch goalkeeping and lackluster finishing left the match goalless.
"It was a difficult night for both teams," said United Head Coach Manny Lagos. "We had some good moments where we played some lovely soccer. I wish we could've had a few more chances, and ultimately turned them into goals."
Both sides began with a similar style of play, using long aerial passes to try to open up their respective forwards. Minnesota was more successful early on with finding 2014 Golden Boot winner Christian Ramirez, however 6'6" Rowdies defender Stefan Antonijevic made life difficult in front of goal. Antonijevic used his size advantage to control the air in the Rowdies box, forcing United to stick to a ground game.
United's best chance of the half came off a miscommunication with Rowdies keeper Kamil Contofalsky. Minnesota midfielder Miguel Ibarra pressured the keeper, who was trying to clear the ball, forcing him to give the ball away near his own goal. Ramirez received the ball and tried to chip the ball over Contofalsky as he charged in, but the keeper flailed his hand up to knock the ball down in a desperation save.
As the teams came out of the halftime break it seemed United had the advantage, but as the match went on the Rowdies began to take control. Forward Brian Shriver, who entered the game as a second half sub, was able to get wide open on the back door several times, but was unable to find the back of the net despite several easy chances.
Contributions from newcomers Jonny Steele and Ibson provided United with its best attacking plays. Both midfielders were able to play threatening balls into the box on many occasions, but defensive efforts by Antonijevic and Tamika Makandawire thwarted Minnesota's attacks.
The final whistle blew just as the Rowdies were starting to push United back, with both sides earning one point in the standings.
"I'm proud of the guys for walking off the field with a point," continued Lagos. "This is a positive as long as we come out and play better next week."