FRISCO, TEXAS – Minnesota United FC almost made it an entire half without conceding a goal.
For a team that had allowed 20 goals in five matches heading into Saturday’s FC Dallas encounter — averaging out to a goal about every 20 minutes — stretching that to 43 minutes before falling behind was pretty good.
In fact, while United has given up the first goal in all of its matches so far, 43 minutes in was the team’s best defensive start by far.
Even better, considering Dallas is arguably the best team in Major League Soccer and could have probably netted a score at least three times before that.
However, the atmosphere in the locker room after United fell 2-0 to Dallas at Toyota Stadium wasn’t taking into consideration any of those caveats, as United failed to build on its first victory from a week earlier.
“On the whole, I thought it was a little bit of a missed opportunity,” coach Adrian Heath said after his team fell to 1-4-1 in its first MLS season. “It’s not very often you come here and have a lot of the play like we’ve done, a lot of the ball. And I think the fact that the keeper got the man of the match gives you an idea that we had a lot of opportunities tonight.”
While defensively not allowing a goal until just before halftime was a good start, United only managed one shot over the entire first 45 minutes. But the second half, especially after going down by two shortly after the break, was an onslaught against Dallas (3-0-1). The Loons made 12 total shots, forcing Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez to make some spectacular saves before ending the match with five in all.
United also ended the match with 55 percent of the possession. But this was the first match during which the Loons failed to score a goal of their own, having scored 10 so far this season to rank fourth in the league. United is also tied for first in shots on goal with 31 — second in total with 77 — while forward Christian Ramirez was tied for third in the league with four goals and ranked second with eight shots on goal ahead of Dallas.
“Those are the worst games to be a part of, when a goalie is standing on his head like that,” Ramirez said. “It just feels like nothing can go past him. Credit to him — I mean, he played out of his mind.”
Dallas midfielder Javier Morales’ jab and midfielder Michael Barrios’ strike, after United midfielder Sam Cronin lost the ball, were some of those same defensive miscues for which United is becoming known.
“The thing is that the two goals that we gave up were preventable,” defender Marc Burch said. “We didn’t get broken down. On a dead ball, you’ve just got to stay with your man until it’s cleared. And then the second one, you know, you’ve got to communicate if you’re going to put someone in a spot. … We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot with bad turnovers and tap-in goals.”