"Fired up" Minnesota United take three leads to claim wild home victory

MINNEAPOLIS — Before Minnesota United matches, the stadium blares a rotation of songs of all types. Among today’s setlist: “Let’s Go Crazy,” by Minnesota native son Prince.

The players in the game that ensued sure seemed to follow the late legend’s instructions. Minnesota ended up besting the Timbers in a game that featured two own goals, a penalty kick, and two red cards. 

For a Loons team coming off of a losing stretch on the road, it was music to their ears.

“When we play like that, I know we’re a match for people,” head coach Adrian Heath told the media after the 3-2 win. “We have to play at our maximum. We can’t have three or four people who drop down ten or fifteen percent, which we’ve had on the road. Our level of determination to win a game on the road has been nothing compared to what we’ve done at home.”

Minnesota now have fifteen points at home this season, but these may have been the hardest points for them to acquire. Three times, Minnesota United took the lead over Portland. The first two times, they ended up conceding a goal and letting Portland back into the game. The Loons did their best to channel their emotions into motivation instead of their downfall.

“Sometimes, I think we’re at our best when we’re fired up,” Heath remarked. “Coming with that is incidents and decisions that go against you at times. I’d rather have it than not have it, and too many times, we haven’t had it.”

There was one questionable moment where Portland’s Sebastian Blanco and Minnesota’s Abu Danladi went to ground after a hard challenge. They both kicked at each other from the deck, and each was shown a red card.

“You’ve got to control it,” strike partner Christian Ramirez warned. “Abu will learn – he’s young. He got kicked in the jaw, so I can only imagine how he felt. He’ll learn and see what he could’ve done for us if we were a man up to finish out the game. It happens, and we’ll stick behind him.”

Ramirez found himself on the score sheet, after a sweet pass from Kevin Molino. For the attacking duo, the goal stemmed from instinct. “Kevin has a phrase: ‘don’t look at the eyes.’ I just knew he was going to find me. It was a great pass by him.”

On the other end of the pitch, Brent Kallman was tasked with containing Portland danger man Fanendo Adi. The Timbers’ all-time leading goal scorer was kept in check. For Kallman, it wasn’t easy.

“I got to play against him a little bit in the preseason,” Kallman said with a smile. “He’s obviously a handful – he’s a huge dude, and he knows how to use it. You have to concede that you can’t always fight him and rustle him, so you just try to push him backward.”

Kallman and company were able to keep Portland’s attack from truly getting going. Each time they conceded, the attack took their chances and were able to get back in front. This was Minnesota’s second game in five days, and another awaits on Saturday. As Miguel Ibarra admitted, the focus now shifts to rehabilitation before Vancouver comes to town.

“I’m exhausted, but now it’s time to recover, take an ice bath, and get ready for the next game,” he said.