ATLANTA – Minnesota United are not dead yet.
While much attention has been lavished on the success of their expansion siblings Atlanta United, over the past month the Loons have signaled to the rest of MLS that the North has something to say, too.
The Loons have caught fire of late, scratching and clawing their way up the standings and into the playoff picture, or the very least its outer fringes. Since their 2-0 loss at Seattle on August 20, the Loons have picked up 13 points in 7 games (4-2-1), culminating with Tuesday’s galvanizing 3-2 win over the poster boys of Atlanta.
“They kept going tonight,” said Minnesota manager Adrian Heath after the match. “All of the things I was really disappointed with in Houston [on Saturday], where I didn’t think we kept going and we didn’t play with any drive and energy and enthusiasm – I thought we had bags of that tonight.”
The result marks a major turnabout from the two teams’ result on March 12, when Atlanta tormented a very different Minnesota team than the one they battled Tuesday, thrashing the Loons 6-1 at snowy TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota have solidified in defense and now have a quartet of attacking talent that was so badly missed earlier in the season. In particular, rookie striker Abu Danladi has come on by leaps and bounds, making further inroads on the MLS Rookie of the Year race with a stunning strike Tuesday night.
He said that memory from March is still fresh in his mind.
“I didn’t play that game, I was just coming back from injury, but I was on the bench and I remember everything from that game,” said the 21 year-old. “I could see the frustration on all of the players’ faces.
“Everyone was so down – I mean, six goals. It was just a learning process and you can tell how much the team has grown and how much the team has changed throughout the months after that game. It has been great learning to play with each other and enjoying the game with each other. It’s been a great ride.”
Minnesota’s star rookie said Tuesday’s ranks right at the top of Minnesota’s greatest hits from their debut season in MLS.
“The top one," said Danladi. "It’s the two new teams in the league. We’ve had our ups and downs during the season and this was the time to prove that we are a good team, too. It was a great moment. I’m glad we were able to carry on the work and finish the game. What an exciting day – it’s been a great day for me, for sure.”