Thursday Night Fútbol: NYCFC vs. Minnesota United • Latino Sports

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Thursday Night Fútbol: NYCFC vs. Minnesota United

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NEW YORK, NY – On a warm and humid Thursday night, Minnesota United traveled to Yankee Stadium ahead of July’s five-match home stretch to kick off against one of the hottest clubs in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC. Ramirez struck early for the traveling Loons, but New York followed suit with three unanswered goals to take all three points.

“They were better than us on the night in most departments,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We got ourselves an early goal, we got ourselves in front and never really then took the game to them. Because I thought we had about a ten-minute spell after where we were one pass away from maybe going two-nil up. But, there wasn’t enough desire to go and get that second goal – to really take people out of their comfort zone – and we don’t really do enough of it on the road I’m afraid.”

The narrow field made possession difficult for MNUFC in the opening five minutes, as the Loons struggled to keep control of the ball and absorbed pressure in the middle of the pitch. The complexion of the match shifted for a period when Ronald Matarrita went down in the NYC penalty area in the sixth minute of play and New York was forced to make an early substitution.

Just three minutes later a deep half-chance from Johan Venegas was fumbled kindly by NYC goalkeeper Eirik Johansen and fell at the feet of Christian Ramirez who blasted it home into the top of the net for his tenth goal of the season.

“I actually thought that if we’d had a little bit more care in possession on transition that we could have conceivably gone two up because we had enough good quality ball on the break to have done better, but even that, our quality on the road is not good enough,” said Heath.

But the story of the first half was Minnesota United defending staunchly against a prolific New York City FC side. The MNUFC midfield worked itself back into positions to help the Minnesota back four, with Ibson leading the way in tackles through the first 45 minutes.

New York held 62 percent of possession when it found a breakthrough in the 38th minute, crashing bodies forward in search for an equalizer. It was Alexander Callens finding the back of the net for NYC, after playing a ball through to Ben Sweat, then following it up for a cool finish into the bottom corner.

“I thought that if they scored they would go on and win the game, because I think they wanted the game more than us, and that’s a really sad thing to say – that the opposition wanted to win the game more than you,” said Heath. “I still thought at half time we would have chances, but we certainly didn’t do enough to win this game of football.”

The defensive effort from Minnesota United was countered by quick offense on the other end of the pitch, with Kevin Molino, Johan Venegas and Christian Ramirez pushing forward and holding the ball well in search for a yard of space to knock the ball on net.

The home side’s offense proved too much for the Loons with two goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Jack Harrison headed home a Rodney Wallace cross for New York’s first of the second half, and a brilliant run by David Villa resulted in the second.

“I can’t put my finger on why we are so weak physically and mentally on the road,” said Heath. “Completely different set of people on the road than we are at home. Now I know it’s different on the road, but we’ve got to show a lot more backbone and drive and enthusiasm and desire to want to stop people scoring goals and we don’t at this moment in time. On the road people score goals too easy against us. The goal from David Villa summed it up perfectly. It’s a throw-in, a needless, harmless throw-in on the sideline; two seconds later it’s in the back of our net. Nobody has done enough to stop anybody.”

MNUFC responded positively after conceding, bossing the midfield and playing dangerous passes into the box for the final 30 minutes of play. In the 74th minute Kevin Molino sent Ramirez searching in the penalty area and Ramirez found the back of the net, but wandered too far forward and was flagged offside by the assistant on the sideline. Minnesota continued to push men forward into the box, but were unable to connect with a decisive final ball and shots were wayward curving around and behind the net.

In the end, it was a loss away from home with periods of positive play for the Loons that the club can take with it into a crucial home stand this July. Minnesota is back at TCF Bank Stadium this Tuesday for an Independence Day matchup against the Columbus Crew

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