MNUFC opens season with 0-0 draw
An entertaining season opener at the Hubert H. Humphrey yielded no goals as Minnesota United FC and the San Antonio Scorpions settled for a 0-0 draw in North American Soccer League action Saturday night. 6,754 fans watched the first match in the next era of professional soccer in Minnesota.
Want more photos: Check out our Facebook gallery
“We were maybe a little bit unlucky not to finish one of the chances we created,” Minnesota United FC head coach Manny Lagos said. “I thought that was kind of our night. We did well at times, but couldn’t take the game over, and credit to them, they were organized defensively and did a good job as well.”
San Antonio started the livelier of the two sides. Forward Bryan Jordan tested Daryl Sattler from open play before Walter Ramirez brought a diving save from the Minnesota goalkeeper from a free kick. That opportunity seemed to spark Minnesota’s offensive trio of Etienne Barbara, Simone Bracalello and Miguel Ibarra, who began to combine well in the final 15 minutes of the half, as Bracalello and Ibarra both sent shots over the bar. Defender Connor Tobin also got in on the act from a corner kick, heading a shot on goal for San Antonio keeper Pat Hannigan to deal with.
At the half, both coaches praised the teams’ strong defensive play and issued challenges to their sides to create more in the final third. The message seemed to resonate, as each team created more menacing attacks in the second period, but neither team could find the back of the net. Hannigan and Sattler each made two important saves in the half, and even when they were beaten, the crossbars kept goose eggs on the scoreboard as Husic and Bracalello were each left frustrated having so nearly opened the scoring.
Hannigan had to be at his best to deny his former teammate Aaron Pitchkolan from 10 yards out early in the half. He was called upon again late to deny Kevin Venegas after the United substitute made a strong overlapping run from defense. Sattler had to react quickly to a tight shot from Walter Ramirez and was at full stretch late on to palm substitute Nikola Vasilic’s bending left-footed drive.
On a night where no player could quite steal the limelight, San Antonio head coach Tim Hankinson summed up the close-but-not-quite nature of the evening while expressing optimism for where his team is going as it rounds into form. “The MVP of the game was the crossbar for both teams. A game like tonight certainly shows what we’re capable of.”
Sattler shared the sentiment, seeing reason for frustration as well as plenty of positives for Minnesota as it uses a bye week to jell before returning to the field April 20 against FC Edmonton. “Dead-even game looking at the stats, but the first game of the season is a different thing, playing a league opponent instead of in a preseason environment. It’s something we can build on, and we know we can create better chances going forward.”
Minnesota United FC is off next Saturday before taking the field at the Metrodome again at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, against FC Edmonton. Tickets for the match are available online at MNUnitedFC.com or by calling (763) 792-7355. Multi-game packs and FLEX season ticket packages are also available.
Photo by Ryan Siverson, RySiPhoto.com
Read More Match →