Tag Archives: Abu Danladi

MN United Earns Its Wings At Red Bull Arena

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

Saturday, April 6: 1-2 win

The final installment of the Loons’ five-match road trip defied all expectations. Not only did an injury-hampered squad hold off a desperate New York Red Bulls side, but it also brilliantly showcased its ability to play the full ninety as a unit. A team. And they did so without the assistance of two of its biggest midfield gears.

Going into final preparations for Saturday’s match, there was much confusion over who had traveled and who was available for selection. Rasmus Schuller and Romario Ibarra had finally returned to training after taking knocks in international play, but were still rehabbing; Darwin Quintero left the club’s first training session at Allianz Field on Tuesday after tweaking a prior groin injury; and Chase Gasper was listed as out and Miguel Ibarra questionable, with hamstring injuries. Even the beat reporters we all turn to for clarity were lost.

‘Welp,’ supporters thought. ‘At least we have Home Opener to look forward to.’ The tactical formation chosen by Adrian Heath only deepened concerns about the available players. The 3-4-3 was a good way to utilize what remained of the midfield and maximize chances. With a team that had yet to display an identity (aside from leaning on Quintero’s play-making abilities), and against a team desperate for a home win, it seemed incredibly risky. But the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

The Loons were first on the board despite ceding possession for most of the first half (and most of the second). Abu Danladi was 34 minutes into his first start of the season when he scored on an unsuspecting Luis Robles. Romain Metanire’s crisp pass into the box was settled deftly by Angelo Rodriguez and Danladi’s first touch was gold.

United added another in the second half, a half volley from Romario Ibarra, who had replaced Danladi at the break, assisted by Rodriguez.

The Red Bulls managed to pull one back in the 70th minute which gave their home crowd new life. In the past, conceding such a goal sucked the life out of the Loons. In seasons past, these stat lines would hint at a team that fell apart:

Full-time stats posted on matchcenter.mlssoccer.com

But this time, it didn’t. This time, the squad remained united, an accountable unit for the full ninety minutes, even through the eternal five minutes of stoppage time. Brent Kallman, after his first start of the season, described the difference:

It’s just an overall toughness and I think adding the experienced guys that know how to win and have won in the league helps a lot. For example, Ozi and Ike, obviously huge, the positivity coming from Ike that last ten minutes about ‘we’re almost there fellas, we can see the finish line, it’s right there.’ It honestly kept me going. It helped push me through and I was exhausted. These guys have been there. They’re battle tested, they know how to win and I think that just gives the other guys a lot of confidence.

Confidence is exactly what the Loons will need headed into Allianz Field. They will open their new stadium against NYCFC, another eastern conference team desperate for a win.

Come On You Loons!

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Minnesota United v Atlanta United

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 31: 0-1 Loss

Two Uniteds meet again in the frigid cold. One dominates in possession and manpower. The other scores. Or did they?

Last season, Minnesota United lost their inaugural MLS home match to fellow expansion team Atlanta United, 6 – 1, on a league-record breaking, cold and snowy day, known simply as the “Snow Opener” (or “Snowpener” if you’re saving characters on Twitter). In the second home match of their second MLS season, Minnesota had a much different showing. But they still lost. So what went wrong?

The Loons were set up for an attack-heavy game, with a recovered Abu Danladi starting at forward in the preferred 4-2-3-1. Speed was favored over Christian Ramirez’s size up front. But Atlanta came out with a 3-4-1-2 setup, fronted by Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, to exploit Minnesota’s defensive weaknesses. The focus on speed led to a frantic start, with Atlanta drawing a yellow card before the first minute mark.

Shortly thereafter, Atlanta scored on a corner, when a ball blocked by Matt Lampson was then redirected by Minnesota defenseman Francisco Calvo. His own-goal would seal the game.

Minnesota fans rightfully expected the game to turn around after Atlanta’s Gonzalez Pirez was sent off in the 37th minute. Surely the Loons couldn’t lose a match in which they would go on to dominate with 70.7 percent possession and while up a man.

Unfortunately, Danladi’s youth and speed did not figure into this match. He had some great attempts in the box, attempting to flick the ball around Atlanta’s defense, but seemed lost in the sea of peach-and-white. Ramirez, subbing in late, looked more comfortable in the box, but again saw no results. Rookie Mason Toye also looked dangerous in his few touches but has yet to find the net.

However, while both sides were focused on playing up high, chipping away at every gap in the other’s backline, Atlanta did the best job of closing in within the box. Despite being down a man, Atlanta fought off a number of crosses and keeper Brad Guzan put in a solid night’s work of blocking dangerous chances.

Saturday’s 1-0 loss was definitely an improvement over the “Snowpener” result. Coach Adrian Heath told the press after the match, “Overall, I’m absolutely delighted with my players […] and I feel for them tonight because they did not deserve to come out of the game with nothing.”

On why Atlanta succeeded where Minnesota didn’t: “We must have put seven or eight crosses in the box and I didn’t see anybody getting across the front of anybody […] Yeah, they (Atlanta) were a little bit dangerous on the counterattack. That’s what you get when you spend millions and millions of dollars on players.”

Next week, the Loons have a much-needed bye week. After time for recovery and training, we may discover exactly what potential this year’s squad might have.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale