Minnesota United celebrate "great day" after reaching US Open Cup final

ST. PAUL, Minn. – After nearly three seasons in MLS, Minnesota United have reached their first final: the championship game of the 106th edition of the U.S. Open Cup.

That’s the Loons’ reality after defeating the Portland Timbers 2-1 on Wednesday evening at Allianz Field. They’ll now travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta United on Aug. 27. Both teams will be vying for their first Open Cup title.

“I’m obviously delighted for everybody, the ownership group, players, the players – they’ve worked so hard recently,” head coach Adrian Heath said. “It’s a great day for the club, we’ve gone to our first final.”

Minnesota can celebrate for the night, but Heath wants his players to focus on their four league matches before shifting focus to the final. That all starts with a trip to Texas to face FC Dallas Saturday night (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada).

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“We have three days to prepare for Dallas,” Heath said. “We can’t take our eyes off it. Things are so tight in the West.”

Mason Toye scored Wednesday's game-winner in the 64th minute, continuing his rapid rise in 2019. While some are clamoring for a US men’s national team call-up for the 20-year-old forward, the striker himself kept his focus on the squad’s success.

“We won both games, that’s what really matters,” Toye said. “I’m just super-stoked that we’re going to go to a cup final. For this club and this city, I’m just really excited we all get to experience this and, again, hopefully we can put a really good performance in and bring back the cup.”

That match won’t lack history, though, as the Loons and Five Stripes debuted in the 2017 season together as expansion sides.

Atlanta holds a 13-1 edge and plus-eight goal differential, taking the league by storm with attendance records, signings and results. Minnesota’s start wasn’t as fruitful, though they’re coming around as one of the Western Conference’s top sides in 2019.

Now, the stakes will be raised again. 

“When I look back on my career, I know I didn’t like getting beat in the final,” Heath said. “So it’s nice, it's great tonight, but we [got to] try and do it in Dallas on Saturday.”

Few players have been as crucial to this turnaround as midfielder Ozzie Alonso, who has won four Open Cups with the Seattle Sounders. He knows the mentality that will be required against Atlanta.

“Today, our performance was unbelievable, this was our chance to get to the final,” Alonso said. “We fight for each other and we play for each other until we get the result that we want.”

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