It should have been the night where they sealed their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the fourth year running but, instead, Minnesota United fell to a disappointing 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Playing against the bottom side in the Western Conference, MNUFC’s performance on Saturday was as frustrating as it was head-scratching. It is safe to say head coach Adrian Heath was not impressed.
“I thought it was a strange game. It was like: ‘you attack and then we’ll attack’,” Heath said after the match. “I don’t think we did enough to win. I think they [San Jose] wanted to win the game more than we did and that showed with their attitude. When you consider what was at stake, that’s a pretty difficult pill to swallow, to be honest.”
The defeat – inflicted by second-half goals from the retiring Shea Salinas and 22-year-old forward Benji Kikanovic – means Minnesota’s race to make the Playoffs will go down to Decision Day.
The Loons still occupy the seventh and final spot in the West but face a Vancouver Whitecaps side on a three-match winning streak and looking to leapfrog them in the table. MNUFC are also sandwiched between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake, who face off against each other in the final fixture.
To make matters worse, Minnesota United have now taken just one point from their last six games. Heath’s players, though, are well aware of the situation they’re in and what needs to happen to get over the line.
“We know we need to come out and win the game,” said goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. “We’re going to need the support of everyone, including our whole team, the fans, everything, to push us over this line because we’ve definitely dug ourselves a huge hole when we were in a great position earlier on,”
That said, St. Clair still has faith in his teammates, with MNUFC boasting some incredible difference-makers such as Emanuel Reynoso and Luis Amarilla.
“We knew if we won tonight, we put ourselves in a great position to potentially clinch. Now we have to wait another week to do that,” the Canada international added.
“A lot of pressure going into that last game. Big players show up in big moments, so we’re going to need a lot of guys to have great performances to push us over the line against Vancouver.”
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