Week 30 Recap: Bad Things Happen in Minnesota

By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

The Union’s singular visit to a Western Conference team in 2021 ended in a whole lot of disappointment, complete with suboptimal soccer weather, Jim Curtin deciding to switch to a 4-3-2-1 formation, and a loss smack in the middle of the Union’s playoff hunt.

Curtin’s decision to go with a 4-3-2-1 setup was meant to utilize the wider spaces in the field and emphasize the creative abilities of the Union. In the beginning minutes, all seemed to go to plan as Olivier Mbaizo was able to make a speedy run into Minnesota’s half. With no clear shot on goal himself, Mbaizo crossed the ball over to Kacper Przybyłko, who headed the ball safely into the hands of the keeper.

While the first half hour of the match was largely uneventful, the Loons jumped on a threatening counterattack in the 41st minute. Chase Gasper was able to race past the Union’s defense and find Emanuel Reynoso at the edge of the box. Reynoso found space for Franco Fragapane to assist Adrien Hunou to give Minnesota the opening goal.

The Union made the most of the time left in the half, with Leon Flach kicking off the press with a pass up the left side for Kai Wagner. Wagner easily found Jamiro Monteiro, who connected with Daniel Gazdag to give the Hungarian his first goal of the night.

Gazdag would find the net a second time in the 57th minute, thanks to a corner kick from Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya’s kick initially was knocked away by Minnesota goalie Tyler Miller, but Gazdag was waiting, and a perfectly-timed header put the Union up 2-1.

However, the Loons found their equalizer not long after, after a misplaced pass from Mbaizo found Reynoso, who crossed the ball into the box for Robin Lod to put into the back of the net.

Gazdag was frustratingly close to a hat trick as the 65th minute rolled around, but his header fell just wide of the net.

Minnesota would get a third goal in the 67th minute, after a turnover left the Union’s defense thoroughly bamboozled and scrambling to reorganize. Fragapane took advantage of the confusion and drove home a routine header from the back post.

In the 75th minute, Gazdag was once again involved in a dangerous attacking run, but his linkup with Monteiro failed to get past Miller.

Jack Elliott found himself getting involved on offense, nearly getting a header past Miller off of a corner kick, but the goalie was able to palm the ball out of danger.

As the 77th minute rolled around, Minnesota’s Romain Metanire was shown a red card after a bizarre and flurried use of elbows, along with purposefully throwing the ball at Wagner.

Trying to make the most of the man advantage, Bedoya caught a pass from Wagner at the back post, but the ball deflected off of a Minnesota defender.

The Union kept up the offensive pressure until the very end, but couldn’t find a third goal, dropping the final game of their road trip 3-2.

The Main Takeaway: Stop straying away from the 4-4-2. Just stop.

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