Four days after it “pinched” a victory in stoppage time at FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United moved back into the Western Conference fourth and final home-field playoff position with Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Colorado won in the 89th minute at Allianz Field.
This time, the Loons extended their unbeaten streak to six games with the gift of a Colorado own goal after second-half substitute Ethan Finlay’s crossing pass aimed toward teammate Raheem Edwards on a full run bounced off Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar’s head and went past startled goalkeeper William Yarbrough.
Loons coach Adrian Heath still thought his team deserved Saturday’s three points at Cincinnati, even when substitute striker Aaron Schoenfeld’s pinball stoppage-time goal won it 1-0.
Not this time.
“I thought we got away with one tonight,” Heath said.
His team did so against a Colorado team that played only its second game in more than a month because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Rapids gave up all four goals in a 4-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday in the second half.
They showed few signs Wednesday of their inactivity. The Rapids forced play the first 25 minutes. When Loons wing Robin Lod scored the game’s first goal in the 44th minute, Colorado answered in the 69th minute when Andre Shinyashiki buried a pass from close range after Loons keeper Dayne St. Clair ventured too far off his line.
Loons veteran Kevin Molino had two prime chances that could have been the winner instead of Abubakar’s own goal.
Afterward, Heath went and offered Abubakar — whom he scouted in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft — encouragement.
“One of the great things about drafting players, you meet these kids,” Heath said. “I don’t know if anybody knows him, but he’s an absolutely magnificent kid. I was disappointed for him, but pleased for us.”
Finlay declared on a postgame FSN interview, “I don’t think it was our best 90 minutes.” Heath told reporters on a Zoom call, “We deserved it in Cincy. Tonight, if I was them, I’d be a little aggrieved that they’ve taken nothing from the game.”
The Loons gladly took another three points. In their past six games, they are 3-0-3 even with a collection of what Heath called “knocks” and “niggles” gathered Wednesday.
Captain Ozzie Alonso left after only 28 minutes because of an injured hamstring, but not the one that kept him out for seven games before returning three games ago. Jacori Hayes replaced Alonso but left in the 82nd because of a groin strain. Striker Aaron Schoenfeld started because of a “gentlemen’s agreement” in which the teams agreed during last month’s trade that Kei Kamara would not play against his old mates.
Defender Michael Boxall slid into the goalpost hard with his knee on Colorado’s lone goal but played on. Attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso returned to the starting 11 and set up Lod’s goal with a perfectly angled and paced pass ahead before he left in the second half because of an ankle kicked more than once.
“We’re sort of being held together by cello tape at the minute,” Heath said. “We’ve got so many players playing with little knocks. We’ll have a roll call tomorrow and see where we are at for the weekend.”
That’s a Sunday game at Sporting Kansas City, one of three scheduled games left for the Loons.
“The three points were vital,” Heath said. “If we had not got the three points, the pressure would have mounted with the games we’ve got to come, all important games. I’m so pleased we got the result we did.”