The Loons racked up another point against Real Salt Lake last weekend. Although it wasn’t the outcome the team wanted, a point is a point and they’ll take it.
“You know, [Tyler Miller] made a couple of big saves at the end. But, before that, I thought we controlled the possession for long periods of the game,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Certainly something that I thought we deserved. They’ll probably think that they deserved all three with the opportunities they had late on, but, when you consider the amount of ball we had, I’m pleased. And, it’s, what? Seven points out of nine? We’re trending in the right direction.”
Minnesota’s lineup was a bit different this game due to midfield sensation Emanuel Reynoso being left out due to an injury. The starting XI included newcomer Adrien Hunou as the top man, Jacori Hayes in the central midfield, and defender Bakaye Dibassy, who returned from a preseason injury. The one new face that fans weren’t able to see was newcomer Franco Fragapane and it was unfortunately due to a delay in receiving his paperwork from the Argentina Football Association.
“This has to do with the federation,” said Heath. “We waited for something to be sent back to us. That’s all. It seems so trivial. We dealt with the French authority and it was done in an hour, the day we put it in. So, obviously, I think the fact that they’re in such a bad way with the pandemic, there’s nobody in the main office, people working from home, it’s probably getting a little bit lost in translation, maybe, it’s miscommunication, whatever. Hopefully, well, I don’t say hopefully, it will be done next time for sure.”
Although Fragapane wasn’t available, there was another Loon who stepped up and did the job, midfielder Niko Hansen. Hansen, along with forward Ramón Ábila, entered the game at the 65th minute. It was in the 78th minute that Minnesota United tied Real Salt Lake with a goal by Hansen.
“Right place, right time,” said Hansen. “I think I found myself in a good spot right there. Played it off of Chase [Gasper] and they weren’t really marking on the front post so I just went for it. It was a little bit ahead of me but, like I said, right place, right time.”
Hansen had been out since preseason due to a thigh injury suffered in Florida. Since then the midfielder had been working hard to recover from his injury and get back on the field, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was one of those that was tough mentally,” he said. “As I was going into training every day, almost with no issues. But it’s one that can reoccur and I didn’t want to be out longer than I needed to be, for the rest of the season. It was a little bit of being patient and staying mentally with it. I think it worked out for good.”
With training rolling in this week, the Loons find themselves in 12th in the Western Conference — second to last. Training sessions were also cut short this week with the international break underway.
Four Loons were called up to international duty during the break. Midfielder Jan Gregus will join Slovakia in a friendly against Austria before starting the UEFA EURO 2020 group stage. Loons Jukka Raitala and Robin Lod will join Finland in the EURO 2020 Knockout Phase. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair will join the Canada Men’s National Team as they continue their journey through the first round of 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
Until next week, the Loons will get back into everything, even without those who are away on international duty, and start to focus on their next game on Saturday, June 19 against FC Dallas.