Loons squander lead in 1-1 draw with FC Dallas

Minnesota United still cannot put together a full night’s shift at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute Saturday, the Loons gave up a second-half equalizer and drew 1-1 with FC Dallas. Minnesota has yet to win at Dallas but came away with its first-ever point in five trips there since 2017.

Yet in giving up a tying goal, Minnesota manager Adrian Heath said the result felt more like two points dropped than one earned on the road. “You don’t go on the road very often and create the opportunities that we’ve had, really good opportunities,” Heath said. “I was pleased with a lot of aspects of our play, thought our counterattacking was very, very good.”

In the bigger picture, Minnesota (2-4-2) didn’t wiggle any more separation from Dallas (1-3-4) in the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Minnesota went 11-1-3 when scoring the first goal in 2020 but has now lost or drawn two of the four games in that category this season.

With the game tied, Loons star creator Emanuel Reynoso had two great scoring chances after he subbed on, but both went wide, and those nearly moments loomed.

The Loons took a 1-0 halftime lead with debutant Franco Fragapane scoring on a rebound. The newly signed Argentine was in the right spot after fellow newcomer Adrien Hunou couldn’t convert from outside the 18-yard box. It was set up by a strong defensive play and long run from Jacori Hayes.

Minnesota had an abundance of chances in the first half, including five shots on target. Hunou led the way four shots on frame and a 0.58 expected goals. The majority of that advanced stat (0.42) went to an open look that Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer denied in the 24th minute.

Hayes, a former Dallas player, can imagine what former coach Luchi Gonzalez said to players at halftime. “They probably got ripped out at halftime; I know that coaching staff,” he said. “… They came out with a little bite, so I think we will learn from this, and it’s nice to learn from lessons when we still have the points or a point in hand.”

With a 1-0 lead, United made a defensive-minded substitution of Ozzie Alonso, who missed the last game with a thigh injury, coming on for Hayes and a like-for-like change of wingers in Ethan Finlay for Niko Hansen in the 67th minute.

Almost immediately, FC Dallas strung together at least eight passes, and left-sided center back Bakaye Dibassy got turned around by Ricardo Pepi, who scored the equalizer.

Dibassy struggled throughout Saturday’s game. He picked up a yellow card in the second minute. In the second half, he had a giveaway pass and was pulled out of position to allow two Dallas chances, but he was bailed out by Tyler Miller and Wil Trapp on those occasions.

Knotted up, the Loons brought on two new attackers in Reynoso, who is recovering from a knee injury, and Ramon Abila. As the Loons put together a flurry of late chances, Abila at least twice unsuccessfully called for the ball on the back post but didn’t get any service.

“I felt like we played a really good game and there was more in there for us,” Hayes said. “I felt like we did what we needed to do in the first half. The second half we kind of lost some control, but we still created a lot of good chances.”

BRIEFLY

The Loons had three players away for international, and they will finish up their group-stage work in the European Championships this week, looking to advance to the knockout rounds. Robin Lod, Jukka Raitala and the Finland national team will face Belgium at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Jan Gregus and Slovakia close with Spain at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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