Tag Archives: Ethan Finlay

MN United follow Road Loss with Six Points and New Identity at Home

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

May 11 at Chicago Fire: 2-0 loss, May 18 v Columbus Crew: 1-0 win, May 22 v Hertha Berlin (friendly): 0-1 loss, May 25 v Houston Dynamo: 1-0 win

Minnesota United FC put up a pathetic showing in Bridgeview on Saturday, May 11, just days after offloading their left back and perennial captain on the Fire. If they had hoped to prove that night that they could live without Francisco Calvo, they failed to do so.

One moment encapsulates those dismal 95 minutes – and the two seasons of road woes the Loons thought were in the past – and it involves two big names in the United story: Darwin Quintero, the Loons’ best hope for goal opportunities, and the ousted captain, Calvo.

Quintero, making a lonely run toward goal, dribbled the ball right into Calvo who hardly had to move his feet to dispossess his former teammate and direct the ball out of Fire’s third. That was about as close as the Loons got to a goal. Even Callum Williams, whose optimism lightens most matches, had nothing to say about this one:

Thankfully, the next three matches, including a poorly timed friendly against Hertha Berlin, would be played in front of the Wonderwall. Admittedly, I haven’t watched the Crew match in its entirety: I caught the condensed version after following the live scores from Minnesota’s North Shore.

The fact that the Loons’ scored first after trading shots with the Crew for 70 minutes was not a surprise – with 19 shots to Crew’s 4, it was bound to happen for the home side. However, the play which created it was.

Jan Gregus‘ short corner found Quintero who passed it to Romain Metanire at the top of the third. The right back appeared to be looking for a lurking striker. Instead, his ball to the far post was met by centerback Brent Kallman whose diving header found Ethan Finlay. The former Crew midfielder buried the ball and remained subdued while Loons jumped on top of him in celebration. His strike and a clean sheet from the Loons’ defense secured three points at home.

Hosting a Wednesday night friendly between two Saturday matches was not an ideal situation, but it was an opportunity for Minnesota to let some rookies shine in a match with no conference table consequences. Hertha Berlin of the Bundesliga opened their first US tour with a win at the newest member of their Allianz stadium family.

Though it was his error which led to Hertha’s lone goal, when he knocked an attempted ball right into the path of Peter Pekarik for the rebound, keeper Dayne St Claire, MNUFC’s 2019 Super Draft pick, made some huge saves and proved that he is worthy of some MLS minutes.

St Clair’s fellow loanee, forward Mason Toye, showed growth and composure Wednesday night despite failing to find the back of the net. (If the Dark Clouds had a Charity Over-the-Crossbar Club in addition to the Charity Card Club, I would have gone broke this week.) The 2018 draftee showed he’s capable of finding open space and taking up positions that are most likely to move the ball forward.

The best rookie performance came from midfielder Hassani Dotson. He so impressed the coaching staff that they selected him to make his MLS debut in the Starting XI on Saturday’s match against Houston Dynamo, out of position no less.

With winger Kevin Molino forced to rest ahead of international duty after taking a knock in the friendly, Miguel Ibarra was moved up from the left back role he’d taken after Calvo’s departure. Dotson filled that spot with a confidence that reassured even the most cynical Loons fans.

After some opening-minutes jitters, Dotson made some ice-cold stops against a stout Houston side, partnering well with Brent Kallman, who himself displayed an almost indifferent composure for the full 90 minutes. With those two on the left and Metanire and Michael Boxall on the right, the United defense controlled this game. Previously the Achilles’ heel of a club struggling to find an identity, the defense was stalwart in its own third while also leading the attack.

Metanire, whose 5 assists include 2 game winners, got the lone goal of the night on what was intended to be another assist. Cal Williams may be the only person more surprised than Metanire himself. Listen here:

For a team whose midfield and defensive troubles have dominated headlines since entering MLS, this shift to midfield and defensive dominance is refreshing. Constant communication, accountability, and teamwork has created much-needed chemistry both on and off the pitch. When the veterans are dialed in and happy, the rookies thrive. If Minnesota’s forwards can just start sending the ball into the net instead of over the crossbar, United could be a fearsome foe both home and away.

The Loons face a huge challenge on Wednesday in Atlanta without assist-leader/defender Metanire (yellow card accumulation). Who gets the next chance to shine?

COYL

Featured image: @MNUFC

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Loons Face A Revolutionary Resurgence

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

Saturday, March 30: 2-1 loss

Throughout its first two years in MLS, Minnesota United FC was a terrific matchup for a struggling team. The Loons’ perennial road woes were a gift to any team looking to turn around a losing streak or get a boost of confidence at home. After going 2-1-0 on the road, the Loons returned from the international break expecting their own rebound of sorts in New England, the scene of a catastrophic start for the Revolution.

Rather than get their own boost of confidence over a ramshackle squad, however, the Loons served up yet another comeback for an opponent. I cannot help but think of a scene from a movie full of people facing adversity of all kinds. From Annapolis (pulled from IMDB):

Twins You want to know why I stay in this room?

Jake Huard Yeah.

Twins Cause Jake, you’re my Mississippi.

Jake Huard I’m your what?

Twins People who live in Arkansas, you know what their favorite state is?

Jake Huard No.

Twins Mississippi. Cause Mississippi’s the only thing that keeps Arkansas from being the worst state in the whole country.

Jake Huard I’m Mississippi.

Twins Well you sure as hell ain’t California.[…] That’s why I stay in this room Jake. Cause if Mississippi quits, then all of a sudden Arkansas is the worst state in the whole country.

Minnesota United is certainly less of a Mississippi so far this season, having earned more points in four road games than the team earned on the road all last season. But the fact that this trend continues still stings.

Some huge defensive glitches in the box cost Minnesota the game, most notably when the backline and even ‘keeper Vito Mannone disregarded the man on the back post (Jalil Anibaba) before ten minutes was up and when captain Francisco Calvo got lost outside the box. Those mistakes led to some pretty New England goals.

But there were also some great moments, like midfielder Ethan Finlay getting his first start since his ACL tear last April and making an impact from start to substitution. DP/Striker Angelo Rodriguez also made his first start and succeeded in a few hold-up plays that gave Darwin Quintero chances to find space and take shots. Despite Quintero’s penalty being United’s only goal, the stats show improvement.

The Loons drew five offside calls on Saturday afternoon, more than they drew from the previous three matches combined. They put plenty of pressure on the struggling home side and by all accounts should have taken at least a point. Did you know that one offside is equal to a glimmer of hope? In fact, Calvo would have given his side a shot of life early on if not for the crossbar (and the offside rule) when put his head on a Jan Gregus corner.

So the Loons come home empty handed, but another Minnesota club is incredibly happy this weekend:

Minnesota could have drafted the Minneapolis City SC alum, but instead he became a hero in New England with a little help from the Loons. And with an assist from Teal Bunbury. A Minnesota native.

How awesome is that?

The Loons play one more on the road against the New York Red Bulls before coming home to Allianz Field. One more match to prove they’re not Mississippi to every Arkansas in the league.

Featured image: @MNUFC

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A Team Win for the Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, August 12: 3-1 Win

It was a fun night at Mapfre Stadium Saturday night as Columbus Crew SC defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1. It was a match that could have had a lot more goals in it, but both teams struggled to put away some chances. Crew SC rolled out the same line up they have been sticking with as of late a 3-5-2-1. Some highlights and thoughts on the match:

Crew SC came out attacking and pressuring the ball early. However, they did not keep possession for most of the game. This is one of the few times I don’t feel like the lack of possession hurt them. They may be figuring out how to make this formation successful for themselves.

In the 13’, the Fire scored. Our defense including Steffen just decided Michael deLeeuw was offside, but the refs didn’t agree. This is Soccer 101. Don’t stop playing until the whistle is blown. The Fire has been dominant with wins when scoring first, but not this time….

Artur continues to be the Energizer Bunny on the field. However, he may want to work on his shooting. Artur had many different opportunities to score a goal. The one mentioned above in the 2’, a header in the 5’, and not being able to finish a Manneh cross in the 11’.

Kekuta Manneh’s goal in the 18’ was an example of being at the right place at the right time and being able to finish that opportunity. Artur took a shot that deflected off a Fire defender right to Manneh who was able to put the ball in the back of the net.

The second goal in the 73’ was the result of vintage Francis cross to Meram. It is what got Francis to the All-Star Game in 2015, and it is why I believe Waylon should remain the starter on that side of the field. He also made a key defensive play in the 77’ when he took the ball from a Fire player who would have had an uncontested shot.

Meram scored our second goal, and it was a beauty. It was the 1,000 Crew SC goal. There were times during this game that I was in awe of his movements, and then there were times when I wondered why he was taking extra touches and losing the ball instead of passing it. If Pipa really does leave the Crew SC next year, Meram will have to fine-tune a bit to become the playmaker on this team. I’m confident he can do it.

Harrison Afful played just the first half working himself back from injury. This was a solid performance from Afful, which we haven’t seen a lot this season. It makes me wonder if he’s had lingering injuries for the majority of the season even when he was playing.

This was a must-win game for Crew SC. They are just above the playoff line, and they need to prove that they are a team to contend with. They did, and it was fun to watch.

Schweinsteiger was not as big of a factor in this game as I thought he would be. I don’t know if that’s because of where he was playing or how we played against him.

It was nice to see Matt Lampson back in Mapfre stadium. I really miss his “Off The Post” video clips when he was with Crew SC. If you have never seen them, you should go to YouTube and watch. One time he talked about his favorite song by Amy Grant. Watching those clips usually resulted in me laughing with tears streaming from my eyes. I’m not sure the PK call should have been one. I’ve watched replays, and I still can’t decide. Either way, it was a rough game for Lampson.

On a personal note, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know that I am a huge Ethan Finlay fan—my dog is even named after him. His trade to Minnesota broke my heart. While some felt it was time for him to go, I was hoping Ethan would be a Crew SC lifer. He gave 100% every time he was on the field and just exemplified to me what it meant to be a Crew SC player.

My only regret is that I never got to meet Ethan. I wish nothing but the best for Ethan Finlay, and I’ll be paying more attention to Minnesota from now on. I hope they realize what an amazing player and person they have on their team. My last 3 favorite players have either retired or been traded, so I’m trying not to have another favorite player. I don’t know if my heart can take it.

At the conclusion of this match, I couldn’t decide who should be Man of the Match. Overall, everyone played well. It was a team win. This is the way I believe a successful game should feel.

We play Orlando City this Saturday, and to continue our winning ways from this match, we need to continue to have all our players firing on all cylinders. I look forward to watching.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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The Tale of Two Teams

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Yes, it is the tale of two teams–one who gets outscored 5-0 against a team missing two of its starters, and then another team who wins 3-0 giving their opposition few opportunities.   “Who are these two teams?” one might ask.  And the answer will only surprise those who haven’t watched the team struggle for consistency over the past few seasons, Columbus Crew SC.

On Friday, Columbus Crew SC lost 5-0 to Toronto FC who was missing Giovinco and Altidore.  To be honest, I wasn’t watching.  I was playing a soccer game at the time, so I was following the game’s score on my phone.

As I watched a replay of the game, I didn’t find the first 30 minutes as bad as I thought they would be.  Maybe I was prepared for the worst knowing the final score line already.  Mensah’s foul in the 4’ that led to Vazquez’s putting away a PK was bad–it should have been a red card–and Toronto definitely had a lot of dangerous chances.  However, Crew SC had some chances that they should have finished, which would have resulted in a very different match.

Instead, Toronto’s Justin Morrow streaked down the left side of the field and lasered a ball into the net, and Gregg Berhalter subbed off one of our strongest players, Justin Meram, in the 40’.  Toronto followed this with a goal in the 59’ from Vazquez and two more goals when they were down a man after Marco Delgado was sent off in the 81’. 

Counter this match with the match on Wednesday night against Seattle Sounders where we saw a very different Crew SC team.  Justin Meram and Frederico Higuain continued their fantastic seasons starting in the 10’ when Hector Jimenez slid to get a ball, sent it to Higuain who settled and sent it to the bottom left corner of the net.  Later in the 21’, Justin Meram decided to increase the lead as several Seattle defenders backpedaled as he slotted the ball into the same corner as Higuain.  In the 59’, Meram sent a beautiful pass to Kamara who sent a low shot to the bottom right corner bouncing off the inside of the post careening into the back of the net. 

Zack Steffen made two fantastic saves to keep Crew SC solidly in the lead.  One was a diving save stopping a well-hit shot from Lodeiro in the 57’.  Later, he snagged a charging Fernandez’s shot with his left hand.

Random Thoughts:

  • Crew SC need to get Artur signed and off this loan.  He got sick at halftime during the Seattle game and continued to play.  He is a difference maker and is all over the field.  He needs to be in the black and gold next season too and a few more seasons after that if he continues to play as he has.
  • This team plays better with Ethan Finlay.  He may not be assisting or scoring goals, but he draws defenders and makes dangerous runs. 
  • There were many, many times during this game that I yelled look at Raitala or Finlay.  This team needs to switch the field quicker at times especially when their left back is standing there alone.  Also, Finlay makes these great runs, but they either don’t send him the ball when they should or make the pass too late.
  • Lots of people wanted Gregg fired after the Toronto loss.  I just don’t think that will fix the problems we have.  Gregg is a young coach.  This season, he’s starting to make tactical changes, and he is reflective on his decisions.  I continue to have faith, for now, in his direction for the team.
  • The Seattle game had tons more goals in it.  Kamara had a few more he could have put away. 
  • Having pups on the pitch night at Crew SC may have just brought the team luck.  Should it be a reoccurring event?  I guess it just might depend on our next home match’s result.

So, in the last week, we have seem two very different Crew SC teams.  Maybe, they had to hit the low in Toronto to figure out who they are.  Maybe they thought they were the only ones to defeat Toronto so far this season, so it would be easy to do it again.  But, I like the team that showed up against Seattle.  Let’s hope we see this team again on Saturday against Colorado Rapids.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Ouch, that Hurt

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, April 29: 2-3 Loss

Had I started writing match recaps last week, I would have started with, “Ouch that hurt,” due to the two injuries and uninspiring play by Columbus Crew SC against the New York Red Bulls.  And this week, I can start with the same line for a myriad of reasons.

Ouch that hurt.  Columbus Crew SC let a come from behind lead slip away resulting in a 3-2 loss against New York City FC.  NYCFC started off with an early lead in the 8th minute with a goal by Jack Harrison.  Columbus Crew SC answered with a goal by Federico Higuaín in the 29th minute entering into halftime with a draw.

Columbus started the second half with promise taking the lead 4 minutes into the second half with a goal by Ola Kamara.  And then, the wheels seemed to come off.  NYCFC answered with two more goals.  One by Yangel Herrera and a second by Jack Harrison. 

Let’s talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful parts of this game. 

The Good:  Federico Higuaín looked like a man driven by a cause for the bulk of this game.  He pressured, he passed, he shot, and he played what I think was one of his strongest games of the season.  This isn’t to say it was perfect.  There were times I felt like he tried to force a few things or put a few too many extra touches on the ball when it should have been passed faster or shot immediately, but it was nice to see his desire to win reflected in his play.  This is the Pipa we need to show up for all of Columbus Crew SC’s matches.

The Bad:  This game was a reminder of a lot of the games we lost last year—bleeding goals at the end of games.  However, I do believe this game might have been salvageable had Gregg subbed a bit earlier than he did.  In fact, I started screaming for him to sub around the 60th minute.  Obviously, Gregg couldn’t hear me from across the field, or I’m sure he would have followed my “expert” advice.  It was evident that after our second goal that we couldn’t possess, and we couldn’t absorb NYCFC’s attack forever.  Had Niko Hansen and Kekuta Manneh been subbed in earlier, this game may have ended up differently.

The Ugly:  NYCFC’s goals.  All three of them were ugly because we should have done better.  Two of their goals were caused by our own bad passes leading to giveaways in our half of the field.  After we lost the ball before their first goal, it seemed as if all the Crew SC players had been paused or put into slow motion as NYCFC tore through our players and scored.  Their last goal was a bad pass into our own box that should have never been placed there in the first place.  This is reminiscent of last year’s defensive woes that we haven’t seen as many times this year.  So, if our defense could just remain in 2017 and not flashback to 2016, we would all appreciate it.

The Beautiful:  Our goals were fun goals to watch.  We just didn’t score enough of them.  Higuaín’s volley from a beautiful Raitala cross was sharp and taken without hesitation.  Not to be outdone, Ola Kamara tried a similar kind of volley a little bit later in the game and almost had another goal.  Our second goal was accomplished by some hustle by Ethan Finlay who rattled a NYCFC defender enough to recover the ball and send it across the middle.  Using some unseen sense, Higuaín let the ball go between his legs with a deft step to a waiting Ola Kamara who sent it into the goal.  I want more of these kind of goals every game, but honestly, I’ll just take more goals than our opponent–even if they aren’t as pretty as these.

All in all, this was a game that should have been a win for Crew SC as NYCFC was missing Pirlo and Villa.  We have a few more home games before hitting the road, and I’m looking forward to seeing who this Crew SC team is.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017