Minnesota United: Early-season defensives woes are a thing of the past

FRISCO, Texas – Are Minnesota United finally done shipping goals?

Recent signs are encouraging, even with the Loons still struggling at the bottom of the Western Conference table in their inaugural MLS season.

Heading into last weekend's match at FC Dallas, Minnesota were allowing an average of four goals per match. They left Toyota Stadium on the short end of a 2-0 loss, but still took some encouragement from that.

“The good news about the couple of goals we conceded is that they’re preventable,” defender Marc Burch told MLSsoccer.com. “They’re pretty simple things. One of them is not staying with your guys until it’s completely cleared – something I’m a big fan of. You stay with them until it’s over.

“The second goal is communication – playing with some urgency and not taking chances. When you’re conceding goals, you can’t take chances. Fix those couple of things, and it looks a lot better.”

A simple tweak to the lineup could be what Minnesota hoping is a sign of things to come defensively, with Burch and Sam Cronin both making their first starts for the Loons after last month's trade over from the Colorado Rapids.

Cronin took responsibility for conceding the second goal, giving the ball up in his own end to Kellyn Acosta, who eventually found Michael Barrios to blast it in. But like his fellow newcomer to Minnesota’s starting XI, he was able to find a silver lining due to the nature of the goals they conceded.

“The good thing today is that we didn’t give them loads of chances – we just gifted them two goals,” Cronin said. “Both were very preventable and at very poor times.

“You’ve got to make people earn goals in this league,” he added. “We just didn’t stick with our guy on the first one. And I just gave the guy the ball on the second one. Two moments where our concentration wasn’t good, and they’re a good team that punished us.”

Burch said the loss to FC Dallas was a tale of two halves, with Minnesota limiting the hosts’ chances in the second half and creating a plethora of their own in the final 45 minutes.

He said if it wasn’t for the five saves by FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, the result could have been different.

“We just need to do what we did at the end of the second half for 90 minutes,” Burch said.

And even at 1-4-1 with a -12 goal differential, Minnesota isn’t losing confidence in their ability to turn things around and take the positives from Saturday’s loss to build upon.

“There’s good players on this team. It’s still early in the season, and MLS is kind of a crazy league,” Cronin said. “We just have to keep working and stay positive because we have quality. We just have to clean up a few things here and there.”

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