Sunday, the wife, her brother and fiance and I all headed out to our season ticket seats for the home opener of the Minnesota United FC and their inaugural season in the MLS! As I mentioned in a previous post, it sounded like our team was struggling a bit, but we all had high hopes that facing off against another expansion team would be a much more competitive match.
It was also a PERFECT Minnesota sports spring opener. The weather was in the mid-20s and it was snowing. In fact, the snow was hard enough that they had to use an orange ball instead of the regular white one! Every 20 minutes or so the grounds crew would head out to the field and use leaf blowers to clear the lines so that the players could see where they were. Supposedly the field is heated, but it must have been snowing just a bit too hard.
We settled into our seats, chilled, but excited. I wish that our excitement for such a great Minnesota experience matched the level of play on the field, but within the first couple of minutes we showed that we have a LOT of work to do. Without warning we were suddenly down 2-0 and it wasn’t looking good. We finally managed to get a point on a penalty kick, but everything on our end of the field was abysmal. Our defense looks like a junior high team. They were like lost puppies who had no idea what to do, and didn’t really want to be there in the first place. Atlanta’s strikers just zipped right past them, and our mediocre goalie never seemed to be in position to make a decent attempt at a ball.
Overall, our defensive play was some of the worst I’ve seen in my years of watching. They cleared out almost all of our roster from last year (NASL players), but I guarantee you that our second tier roster could have easily looked better than the garbage that took the field on Sunday. It was an embarrassment, not just for Minnesota, but for the league and American soccer overall.
The bright spot was that our offense didn’t look too bad. We had a lot of opportunities, and we managed some decent passing. It was about what I would expect from a young team that’s only been playing together a few months. They weren’t able to convert, but it didn’t look like we were amateurs. We played some solid offence, but we just couldn’t get the conversions we wanted. When you pitted our offense against their defense, this easily should have been a draw, but when our defense is non-existant, it doesn’t matter how hard our offense tries, we’re going to get beat.
I personally won’t be surprised if our coach, and most of our defenders are fired in a month. At this point we need to do something to ensure we don’t go down as the worst MLS expansion team in history. The energy from 35,000 people was amazing, and I can’t want to see more and more people get excited about the beautiful game. We just need to look like we’re there to play.