Minnesota defeats Tampa Bay 3-2
Minnesota United FC snapped a three-game losing streak in all competitions with a 3-2 victory at Al Lang Stadium against the defending champion Tampa Bay Rowdies. Sixty minutes of resolute defending followed a whirlwind first 30 minutes as Minnesota raced to a 3-1 lead before bunkering down in the second half to resolutely defend its lead.
After a disappointing loss in the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Tuesday night, a fast start and positive result was just what Minnesota needed to snap a skid.
“It was great and obviously we’re delighted that tonight we came out on top,” Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos said. “It was really important for us to come out and play hard and play strong. Both teams battled and I was really proud of the guys to see the game out.”
The result left Tampa Bay winless at home in 2013, with away form keeping the Rowdies in the running near the top of the North American Soccer League standings. Head coach Ricky Hill was left ruing his team’s defensive fragility at home after the game, and despite a second half spent largely in control, he felt the defending champions didn’t take full advantage of a Minnesota side content to make them break a 10-man defense down.
“I was slightly disappointed that we over used the wind [in the second half] because the ball ran way from us. I wanted us to play shorter balls into the strikers,” he said. “I’m really disappointed that we’ve again conceded three goals at home and three within the first 20 minutes, which is an elementary mistake. If we have to score four goals at home to win every time, we can’t do that. We have to stop it as a unit.”
Cristiano Dias’ first goal of the year gave Minnesota an early lead with a headed goal in the 10th minute. Minnesota made the most of its first corner kick of the match, as Simone Bracalello’s service was flicked to the back post for Dias’ to nod home with a looping header.
It didn’t take long for Tampa Bay to level through Georgi Hristov. Hristov won a knock-down header before making a late run into the box. Keith Savage’s through ball found him in stride, and Hristov made no mistake from a tight angle with a powerful finish to make it 1-1.
Geison Moura restored Minnesota’s lead in the 23rd minute. Pablo Campos knocked it down, and Moura—who signed a short-term contract last week—justified his start with a powerful finish past Diego Restrepo.
Simone Bracalello stretch Minnesota’s lead to 3-1 three minutes later. Campos again set it up, laying the ball into Bracalello’s path. The Italian forward did the rest of the work, dribbling past a sliding Rowdies defender before sending a left-footed shot past Restrepo for his fourth goal of the season.
Hristov’s second goal of the season cut Minnesota’s lead in half in the 29th minute. Raphael Cox found himself free on the left wing and crossed for Luke Mulholland, who hit a volley off the hands of Minnesota goalkeeper Matt VanOekel for Hristov to tap in from close range.
The second half was largely tilted Tampa Bay’s way, as Minnesota contented itself with counterattacking opportunities. Despite controlling possession, Tampa Bay couldn’t break down a Minnesota defense that often had nine field players behind the ball. The best chance of the half fell to Shane Hill, whose 25-yard shot was well saved by VanOekel. Former Minnesota forward Devin Del Do sent a header wide early in the half, and Brent Kallman, making his league debut for Minnesota, did well to block a Mike Ambersley shot late on.
Minnesota’s best chances to ice the game came on the counter. Moura missed a golden opportunity for a second in the 67th minute. Kevin Venegas—on as a substitute for an injured Bracalello—sent a low ball across the goal, but Moura sent his shot high from three yards out when a tap-in would have sufficed to restore the two-goal lead. Dias could have padded the lead with the last kick of the match as he led a counter, but he sent his chipped shot high and wide from 25 yards out.
MNU – Cristiano Dias, 10
TBR – Georgi Hristov (Keith Savage), 14
MNU – Geison Moura (Pablo Campos), 23
MNU – Simone Bracalello (Pablo Campos), 26
TBR – Georgi Hristov (unassisted), 29
TBR – Andres Arango, caution 12
TBR – Daniel Scott, caution 45
TBR – Luke Mulholland, caution 45
TBR – Raphael Cox, caution 55
MNU – Bryan Arguez, caution 55
MNU – Kentaro Takada, caution 57
MNU – Geison Moura, caution 77
Tampa Bay XI: GK Diego Restrepo; D Jordan Gafa, Daniel Scott, Takuya Yamada (captain), Andres Arango; M Luke Mulholland, Shane Hill, Keith Savage, Raphael Cox (Mike Ambersley 61); F Devin Del Do, Georgi Hristov
Tampa Bay Unused Subs: GK Andrew Fontein; D Thurstan Johnson; M Stuart Campbell, Kyle Clinton, Evans Frimpong; F Amani Walker
Minnesota XI: GK Matt VanOekel; D Justin Davis, Brent Kallman, Cristiano Dias, Brian Kallman (capt); M Simone Bracalello (Kevin Venegas 45), Kentaro Takada, Bryan Arguez, Miguel Ibarra, Geison Moura; F Pablo Campos
Minnesota Unused Subs: GK Daryl Sattler; D Luis Heitor-Piffer, Connor Tobin; M Sean de Silva, Michael Reed; F Travis Wall
Photo by Matt May Photography
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