United FC Falls 3-1 to Atlanta Silverbacks
Minnesota United FC (4W-2T-5L, 14pts) suffered a 3-1 loss on the road to the Atlanta Silverbacks (4W-4T-3L, 16pts) in front of 5,000 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park Saturday Night.
Silverbacks enjoyed the bulk of possession throughout the match and found themselves with the better scoring opportunities, capitalizing on a Ruben Luna header in the 42nd minute for the first score of the contest.
The Silverbacks doubled their lead in the 74th minute as substitute Danny Barerra scored on a second headed goal of the night. Minnesota pulled one back in the 82nd minute on a Simone Bracalello penalty, but the Silverbacks put the game out of reach as they scored on a penalty of their own in the 90th minute from the boot of Pedro Mendes.
“It was Altanta’s ability to defend against us in the middle third that led to them opening up the game,” said United coach Manny Lagos, “It was a tough one for us, I thought at times we played well, but certainly not good enough to win the game.”
The Silverbacks controlled the bulk of possession throughout the match forcing United to work offensively on the counterattack with the speedy wing play of Miguel Ibarra and Italian Simone Bracalello. United just couldn’t manage the final execution in the attacking third and were unable to swing the match in their favor.
The Silverbacks were granted the first real opportunity in the 9th minute as Alex Caceres found space on the left wing and fired a shot that was deflected into the path of Ruben Luna, who had a wide open net to shoot at, but United defender Aaron Pitchkolan played hero as he was able to get a head on the off-footed shot and clear the danger.
Atlanta appeared to gain confidence in possession as the match progressed, leaving Minnesota with no choice but use their speed on the counterattack to threaten the Silverbacks defense.
The match opened up in the 39th minute, as United defender Brian Kallman was shown the yellow for dangerous slide tackle on the outskirts of the Minnesota box. The ensuing free kick, taken by Pedro Mendes smacked the United crossbar and deflected over. Moments later, in the 42nd minute, Ruben Luna made a darting near post run and got onto the end of a Mike Randolph cross and headed in his 7th goal of the 2013 season, stealing a goal right before the half. “I thought we had a poor clearance in the middle of the field that they won and got wide and Luna made a good near post run and credit to them,” offered coach Lagos on the score.
Entering the second half without the help of top scorer Pablo Campos, who did not make the trip due to a right hip injury, Minnesota found themselves needing goals without their number one scoring threat.
Atlanta seemed content to possess the ball throughout the second half and stymy any chances United had. In the 71st minute Minnesota had a great opportunity in front of goal as Kevin Venegas flashed a dangerous ball across the Silverbacks goalmouth, but no United attacker was able to connect and the threat waned.
The Silverbacks doubled their lead in the 74th minute on a second headed goal, this time from Danny Barerra. Shane Moroney earned his 3rd assist of the season as he slung in a cross from the right wing that cleared the Minnesota defense and Barerra easily slotted it home.
Minnesota pulled one back in the 82nd minute as Silverbacks keeper Joe Nasco scrambled for a loose ball in the penalty area and dove at the legs of United defender Cristiano Dias forcing the referee to signal for a penalty. Bracalello finished from the spot with a well taken penalty, good for his 7th goal of the season.
Minnesota’s hopes were dashed in the 89th minute as keeper Matt VanOekel was forced off his line to thwart a Silverbacks breakaway. VanOekel lunged at the legs of Pedro Mendes and the referee issued his second penalty of the match. The man who forced the call, Mendes, stepped up and calmly slotted the penalty home, giving the Silverbacks an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
The loss, coupled with the New York Cosmos (7W-3T-1L, 24 pts) 4-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks, puts Minnesota 10 points behind the Cosmos with three games to play. United remains alive in the quest to play in the 2013 Soccer Bowl due to tie-breakers should Atlanta catch the Cosmos and finish first in the 2013 NASL Fall Schedule.
Minnesota looks to return to form next Saturday as they host the Carolina RailHawks, 2:30 PM at NSC Stadium. Tickets are available by calling 763.331.8777 or online at MNUnitedFC.com. The match will also be televised live on FOX Sports North.
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Minnesota lineup: GK Matt VanOekel; D Cristiano Dias, Connor Tobin, Aaron Pitchkolan, Brian Kallman (Kevin Venegas, 45th); M Simone Bracalello, Michael Reed (Floyd Franks, 63rd), Calum Mallace, Miguel Ibarra; F Mike Ambersley, Travis Wall (Max Griffin, 72nd)
Minnesota unused subs: GK Mitch Hildebrandt; D Justin Davis; M Omar Daley; F Nate Polak
Opponent lineup: GK Joe Nasco; D Mike Randolph, Beto Navarro, Martyn Lancaster, Shane Moroney; M Richard Menjivar, Horace James (Willie Hunt, 90th), Milton Blanco, Alex Caceres (Danny Barerra, 69th); F Ruben Luna (Kellen Gulley, 83rd), Pedro Mendes
Opponent unused subs: GK Eric Ati; D Josh Suggs; M Jesus Gonzalez, Lucas Paulini
ATL – Ruben Luna (Mike Randolph) 42nd
ATL – Danny Barerra (Shane Moroney) 74th
MNU – SImone Bracalello (Penalty) 82nd
MNU – Brian Kallman (Yellow Card) 39th
ATL – Beto Navarro (Yellow Card) 57th
MNU – Aaron Pitchkolan (Yellow Card) 64th
ATL – Horace James (Yellow Card) 88th
MNU – Matt VanOekel (Yellow Card) 89th
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