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LOONS BEGIN HOMESTAND WITH 2-1 WIN OVER HOUSTON

Goals from Ibson and Quintero earn all three points for MNUFC

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (April 28, 2018) — Goals from Darwin Quintero and Ibson lead Minnesota United (3-5-0, 9 points) to a 2-1 win over the visiting Houston Dynamo (2-3-2, 8 points), taking three points in its first match of a six-match stretch in which MNUFC plays five matches at home.

“Hopefully it gives us something to build on,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Sometimes you get your rewards at different times. I honestly thought we got a little bit of a reward for some of our play in the last few weeks. It showed great character, teamwork and belief from the guys to dig themselves out of the hole.”

The Loons had to dig themselves out of a less than auspicious start, after Houston’s Alberth Elis opened the scoring in the 10th minute – finding space behind the defense to receive and tap home a low cross from Romell Quioto. MNUFC’s troubles were further compounded in the 30th minute when Christian Ramirez was subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury.

“We’ll know more tomorrow when it settles down a little bit,” Heath said. “Hamstrings are never good for anybody. So we’ll see.”

Ramirez had been the Loons most dangerous player to that point, creating a pair of close calls in the 20th and 26th minutes with a header from a corner and a long-range chip from just inside midfield that nearly found the top right corner.

With yet another of the team’s primary attacking threats sidelined, Darwin Quintero stepped up to fill the void. Quintero showed his ability to create as he leveled the score at one in the 40th minute. Quintero dished to Ibarra, made a run into the box, received the ball back from Ibarra for a headed effort that deflected off the Dynamo defender’s arm and drew a penalty that Quintero coolly converted just inside the right post.

The goal was Quintero’s second to go along with one assist in three games since joining MNUFC from Club America.

“Darwin showed glimpses of unbelievable ability and he’ll be better for another 90 minutes under his belt,” Heath said. “You can already see that quality he’s got. As we start to learn more about him, and he learns more about us, that will certainly be a plus for us moving forward.”

Making his second-straight start, Bobby Shuttleworth turned away four Dynamo chances but no save proved bigger than his highlight reel-worthy stop in the 66th minute. Houston’s DeMarcus Beasley served in a well-placed cross for Mauro Manotas but a sprawling Shuttleworth reached back to deny his headed effort.

The save kept the match level at one and set the stage for Ibson’s heroics just minutes later.

“That was a big save,” Heath said. “You need keepers to make big saves at appropriate times. I thought it kept us in the game.”

With the score even at one, Houston applied heavy pressure and monopolized possession to start the second half, which forced Heath to change his formation to something closer to a 4-3-3—a move he credited with changing the flow of the game and allowing the free-roaming Ibson to find the space in the box he needed to slot home the match-winner.

The Brazilian deftly back-heeled Miguel Ibarra’s service into the box underneath a sprawling defender for his second goal of the campaign and Ibarra’s team-leading third assist.

“It was a great finish,” Heath said. “As soon as we changed the shape, it changed the way the game went. We started to get more and more on the ball and we started to play in their half a bit more.”

The win also marked the MNUFC debut for loanee Alexi Gomez, who came on for Ibson in the 78th minute and quickly showed promising passing chemistry with Quintero that led to a pair of chances.

Minnesota United FC returns home to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, May 5 to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 1:00 p.m. CT start. Pre-match coverage gets underway at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North or streaming on FOX Sports Go and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

Lineups

Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Carter Manley, Michael Boxall, Francisco Calvo, Jerome Thiesson; M Rasmus Schuller, Ibson (Alexi Gomez 78’), Sam Nicholson (Collin Martin, 67’), Miguel Ibarra, Darwin Quintero; F Christian Ramirez (Mason Toye 30’)

MIN Unused Subs: GK Matt Lampson; D Brent Kallman; M Harrison Heath, Frantz Pangop

Houston Dynamo Starting XI: GK Joe Willis; D Andrew Wenger, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley; M Boniek Garcia, Tomas Martinez (Mac Steeves 77’), Darwin Ceren; F Alberth Elis (Arturo Alvarez 84’), Mauro Rodriguez, Romell Quioto (Memo Rodriguez 87’)

HOU Unused Subs: GK Chris Seitz; D Adolfo Machado; M Eric Alexander, Luis Gil

Match Events

Goals
10’ — Elis (Quioto, Martinez) — HOU
40’ — Quintero (PK) — MIN
70’ — Ibson (Ibarra, Martin) — MIN

Discipline
39’ — Fuenmayor (YC) — HOU
55’ — Darwin Ceren (YC) — HOU
65’ — Schuller (YC) — MIN

MINNESOTA UNITED QUOTES SHEET

MNUFC HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH 

On what three points do to hit the reset button …

Well, hopefully it gives us something to build from. A little platform to build from. And as I’ve just said to the guys, sometimes you get your rewards at different times. And I honestly thought that we got a little bit of reward for it, some of our play in the last few weeks. Today wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked. Especially with the start they got. It showed great character, teamwork and belief from the guys to dig themselves out of the hole. So obviously pleased with it and we have to keep building. Obviously losing Christian [Ramirez] as well. Hopefully it’s not too bad. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. But it’s another big blow on the back of Ethan [Finlay] and [Kevin] Molino and [Sam] Cronin. You know, it’s not a good situation for us at this moment in time. So, to grind out a result in the way that we did is very pleasing.

On specifics of Christian Ramirez’s injury …

We think it’s a hamstring strain. So, we’ll know more tomorrow when it settles down a little bit. But, you know hamstrings are never good for anybody. So, we’ll see. We’ll see how we are tomorrow.

On Mason Toye’s performance …

Some good little pieces. Some good little moments. You know, he’s still learning the game. Gotta know where to run and when to run. But he has lots of natural ability. The one where he turned the guy in the box, typical example of what he is. If we can get him isolated against one, he’s got tricks to beat people. And I thought he got a hold of it a little better. Competed in the air a bit better than he has been doing for his size. But he’s still a project. He’s still got an awful lot of work to do. You know, the way the game turns around, he’s maybe going to get an opportunity now. Sometimes quicker than you think. But it’s up to him to keep working hard, listening, and hopefully taking what he’s doing well onto the field.

On Carter Manley’s performance …

And he had another one tonight. He’s playing against [Romell] Quioto. As I said before, him and [Alberth] Elis are probably as quick as anyone in the league. You know, he had a little mistake late on when the ball went under his foot. But he stuck at it. And as I say, he’ll be a lot better for the games that he’s had under his belt the next few weeks. He’ll be delighted to maybe play against somebody that’s probably not going to fly a winger against him. Because he can enjoy playing a little bit more.

On the team’s performance as a whole …

On the whole, I was pleased with the commitment and the shape of the team. And as I say, it’s a big win for us to move on from. Hopefully this is a little platform. A little springboard for us to get some wins at home in the next few weeks.

On Bobby Shuttleworth’s point-blank save …

Big save. Need keepers. Goals change games. And you need keepers to make big saves at appropriate times. And I thought it kept us in the game. They were pushing forward at that particular time. It was a great ball in, great cross, good header. And it’s a great save.

On his level of concern when the team conceded early again …

Always. Because as I said in the week. Against this team, these are probably as dangerous as anybody on the counterattack in MLS. That’s why you see them games like you did early in the season, when they beat Atlanta. Atlanta had the ball and were in their half for every goal of the game conceded. So, the thing that you don’t want to be doing is chasing the game and that was my only worry. Conceding that early, people get desperate and start to chase the game and do things that they shouldn’t. And then that leaves it in even more space for them to utilize, which with their speed and the front three, is difficult. Hard to combat at times.

On Jerome Thiesson’s performance …

I thought Jerry did really well actually against Elis. Because he’s really difficult to handle.

On Ibson’s goal and if he was out of position …

Probably. Running out of place again. But no, it was a great finish, again. And it obviously just changed the shape a little bit. At that stage we’d gone to more of a 4-3-3. And obviously Darwin [Quintero] has done it before.

On Darwin Quintero’s performance in his home debut …

I thought Darwin showed glimpses of unbelievable ability and he’ll be better for another 90 minutes under his belt. To get that extra bit of sharpness. But you can already see the quality he’s got. And as we start to learn more about him and he learns more about us, that will certainly be a plus for us moving forward.

On Ibson and Rasmus Schuller both having a roaming playing style …

Yeah. I think at times when they play three in there, because they play their No. 10 in there, against the two midfield players as well, it’s difficult for them at times. And that was the reason I changed the shape. Because we have to get a footing in the game. They had about a 15-minute spare in the second half where we really couldn’t get out of our own half and we couldn’t get any quality possession. As soon as we changed the shape, actually, it changed the way the game went again. We started to get more and more on the ball and we started to play in their half a bit more. So, it’s one of those tweaks in the system that makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

On playing three in the midfield and if he is going to do that more moving forward …

It’s something that we’ve spoke about before. Because I’ve seen Alexi Gómez play in that attacking sort of role as a three central-midfield players. But we’ve got enough bodies in there now to do that on the road. And it showed that Darwin has played that role before. Very sensibly getting his position nice and early, defensively. But really using, on the counterattack, when the ball turns over, using that space in between. So those would maybe give us something to think about moving forward.

On what he thought about the guys that made their season debuts …

Well, you know what Collin [Martin] is all about. He’s been working really hard in training. And Alexi, he hasn’t played a lot of football of late, but he showed some nice touches. We know he’s athletic. We know he’s got a great left foot. So, we’re pleased we got him on the field. He’ll be better for next week, too.

On his roster as the transfer window shuts on May 1 …

Well, that was probably a little bit better about a week or so ago. Ethan was still going and Christian hadn’t got injured. Hey, we’ll see what we can do. I think this week will be a little bit busy for a few clubs. And if something came about that we thought would help us moving forward, then we might be interested. If not, we’ll stay with what we’ve got. And we’ll work with the group that we have. And if they work as hard as they’ve done tonight, then we’ll get points.

MNUFC GOALKEEPER BOBBY SHUTTLEWORTH

On the mindset when the team conceded early again …

Yeah. It’s frustrating. I mean, seems like we’re doing the same stuff in training. Going over it. The managers told us our responsibilities. And it’s something we go over every single week. And we just kind of keep conceding the same type of goal. So, I think it’s definitely frustration, but then you just have to put it past you. I think we did a good job rebounding from that.

On what he saw on the Houston goal …

Well, he just got played in and I think he does a really good job of putting that cross between myself, and [Michael Boxall] and [Francisco] Calvo with pace. Elis is kind of lurking on the back post, like he usually is.

On his save in the 66th minute …

Yeah, I think they kind of were exploiting a lot of space down our right side. Easily played a ball in and couldn’t come forward. So, just dropped back to the line and tried to react as best as I could, and not give up a big rebound.

On if his save in the 66th minute was a turning point for the team …

Yeah. I mean, that’s my job. To make saves back there. So obviously that’s a bigger one, with it being 1-1 at the time. That’s something that hopefully the goalkeepers can do going forward.

On being able to snap the losing streak, and start a home stand now …

It’s a big boost. I don’t think, we haven’t started the season great. And I think there’s been some good performances and we’ve played well at times and played poorly at times. I think this is a good step forward for us, but it’s just the first step. And we do have a bunch at home here. And it’s important for us, if we do want to make a playoff push here, we gotta make this place a fortress and we gotta pick up points at home. Like I said, first step going forward, is back to work on Monday.

On what it means to play a couple of matches after sitting a few …

Yeah, I mean, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating. I was dealing with some vertigo in preseason and it took me a while to shake all that. So, it’s a position I’ve been in before. I’ve been around the block, I’ve been playing for a while now. Just continue to work hard in training, and if my number is called, I’ll be ready to roll.

On what brought on the vertigo …

I’ve gotten it before. It’s just kind of something that comes and goes. I haven’t had it for probably three or four years now, but it lasted a little bit longer than it usually does.

MNUFC MIDFIELDER MIGUEL IBARRA 

On getting three points … 

We deserved it from our past games. I mean, at home we’re hard to beat. We had to put up a performance to get three points out of it.

On shifting the game plan with the substitutions of Mason Toye and Alexi Gómez …

I haven’t really played with Alexi. We’ve had maybe two or three practices with him. And Mason, we already know what he’s all about. Just energy up front. Our game plan was put Mason in, he’s going to run. Alexi came in and he helped us out a lot combining with Darwin. Those were some positive moves for us.

On recovering after conceding early to score twice and get the win … 

We talked about it before the game. If we concede one goal, let’s not put our heads down. It’s just one goal and everybody can come back from a goal. Again, we conceded early. We have to work on that again. Coming from behind again is not what we want. We want to hit the net first. Fortunately, we were able to defend well and not concede a second goal and were able to put two in the back of the net.

On what changed when Christian Ramirez was subbed off … 

Christian is more of a hold-up player, so we were kind of looking forward to playing up top with him and Quintero. Once we knew Mason was coming in we knew he was kind of a different player than Christian. Mason likes to do the runs in behind the shoulders of the defenders. His work ethic up there helped us out a lot.

On matching up against DaMarcus Beasley … 

Before the game the [coaching staff] told me he’s already a little bit aged so go at him. Go at him with your speed and you’ll be able to beat him. My plan was just stay out wide and try to go at him as much as possible.

On starting the past few matches and mixing in with the attacking players … 

I think from last year to this year my confidence has been boosted a lot. Now loosing Ethan and Kevin Molino, it’s just helped me to saying I’ve got to step it up and help the team out because I know they have confidence in me. I just got to keep working hard. Darwin has been helping me, Calvo has been helping me. Giving me confidence. They’ve been a big boost to me.

On providing the assist to Ibson’s goal … 

My instinct was just this little slip in. On the corner, again, they gave it to me. My instinct was just whip it in. Someone is going to be there and fortunately it was Ibson again. I don’t know how he’s always there. He said he didn’t think I saw him. If I would’ve hit it over him he probably would have let me have it. My instinct was just hit in there. Maybe there’s a deflection or whatever. It’s going to go in.

On Ibson always finding passes … 

Just another body in the box. So, him being in there … you don’t really see him in there and defenders don’t really pay attention to him as much. But I’m glad he was in there.

On stressing three points to start this home stretch … 

We have five or six games at home, so we’re a hard team to beat at home. I think for us to get three points every game at home is a big stretch us. So that’s our mentality right now. We just got three points tonight and now we focus on the next game.

MNUFC FORWARD MASON TOYE 

On his first performance with big minutes … 

I thought as the game progressed I kind of found my feet and I gained a little bit of confidence. You know, in the beginning it was a little shaky. I lost some balls. But as the game progressed, I thought I did well and I played pretty good today.

On having to enter the lineup due to injuries … 

Obviously, I’m trying to break into the team. It’s unfortunate that Abu and Christian have been out with injuries, but now I have an opportunity and I’m going to try to take it.

On how the game changed when Alexi Gómez came in … 

I mean, at the end of the day when we were going forward, there’s not really a specific game plan. We’re just trying to play soccer. Obviously, those two guys –– those three guys –– Miguel, Alexi and Darwin are all really good at soccer, so I was just trying to get myself in good positions, move off the ball and try to get another goal. So, I think we all played pretty well together.

On how important is was to get a win after four losses … 

It’s huge, especially at home. We had a great come-out from the fans tonight … You know, we had like 21,000 people here, so that was pretty awesome. But it was huge for us to get back on a win streak. Hopefully we can come back with another win; we’re home again next week, so I think it will be huge if we can establish a winning streak at home.

MNUFC DEFENDER CARTER MANLEY 

On the game …

It was definitely a tough game, those are the best wingers that I have gone up against this season. It was a big challenge, but an experience to learn from.

On his conversation with Ibson in the second half …

[Ibson] was telling me to settle down and play my game, trying to give me advice and help me out.

On what was going through his head at that moment … 

It was nice to see that the guys have confidence in me and still believe in me and give me that motivation.

On going up against the toughest wingers he has faced this season …

They are very dynamic, quick and have a lot of experience.

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