Entering the game with a 351-minute scoreless drought, the Loons slammed in four goals for an emphatic result at TCF Bank Stadium. For coach Adrian Heath, it was a needed win.
“Obviously, winning games in football makes things that much easier and better,” Heath said. “I actually thought 4-0 flattered us a little bit. We took our opportunities at the right times. We took too many chances in the second half at times, but that would be nit-picking.”
Minnesota capitalized on keen distribution from Kevin Molino and Ibson, getting goals from Christian Ramirez, Abu Danladi and Miguel Ibarra. D.C. United’s Jared Jeffrey conceded an own goal to add to Minnesota’s day.
For Ibarra in particular, scoring was sorely needed.
“It felt great,” the winger said with a smile. “I’ve been searching for that goal for a couple games, and it just wasn’t going in. I saw that ball rolling and thought it was going to come off the post and go out, but it’s was just our luck today.”
Ramirez opened the scoring in the seventh minute but pulled up lame and was subbed off before halftime. Heath called his diagnosis a “little tweak on his hamstring,” but didn’t want to risk making his star striker’s injury worse.
“I’ll be out there if they need me,” Ramirez said of his injury. “We’d rather play it safe, especially when I’ve got my folks coming in next week. It’s just how much some guys want it with putting it all out there.”
Danladi – the first overall pick of the 2017 SuperDraft – was able to add to his rookie goalscoring tally as well. He was the focus of high praise from Heath.
“If Abu can stay fit, I’m really confident he can become what we thought when we drafted him: one of the best strikers in the league,” the gaffer boasted. “He does have a knack to be at the right spots. I thought the first two goals were excellent goals.”
Molino acknowledged that there had been some growing pains for Minnesota over the last month. International duty, injuries and suspensions had left the Loons short of an 18-man roster for much of the last month. Still, he thinks they’ve grown as a group.
“We have to be real with ourselves,” Molino said. “It’s our first year in MLS, and it’s a difficult league. Most of the players are new, so it’s us helping each other. It pushes us to teach the younger guys like Abu and the new guys to the league that this is how it goes. It won’t be easy. Now, we have to build as a team.”
Minnesota will look to build on this result in the coming weeks, with two straight games against the defending MLS champion Seattle Sounders. If the team is going to continue to get wins, they’ll need every player to train at their best.
“Competition for places are pretty fierce at the moment,” Heath said with pride. “After 40 years of doing this – probably more, I sound like an old dog – it’s still the best form of motivation when somebody can take your place. Hopefully, we can bring in one or two more into this group over the next 10 days.”