Minnesota United FC had enough talent in their lineup on Wednesday night to guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup in 2022, according to head coach Adrian Heath.
Of course, that didn’t translate to a win at Allianz Field, as they were defeated 2-1 by Union Omaha of USL League One. After losing on penalty kicks to the Nebraska-based group in the third round late last month, the third-division side eliminated an MLS team for the second time this year. Where did it all go wrong, then? Heath emphasized the Loons’ mentality.
“I’ve been here before,” the Englishman remarked, “and the longer I’m in football, the more I’ll be here again. It happens all over the world, Premier League clubs losing to fourth-tier clubs, and it’s always because you don’t approach the game correctly. I couldn’t have told the men any more about what to anticipate and what was to come after Monday, Tuesday, and tonight’s game.
“We have to take responsibility for it, and I do. It is my obligation to ensure that they do not behave in this manner. But, at some point along the way, you have to stand up and say, ‘That isn’t going to be me’. After the game, he’s not going to label that at me.”
Adrien Hunou rewarded Minnesota’s decision to start both of its Designated strikers with a sixth-minute goal off Franco Fragapane’s feed. Despite this, Heath stated that he expects more from the Frenchman and Luis Amarilla, the Paraguay international who they re-signed this summer. “I expect more from the group, full stop,” he added.
Hugo Kametani of Union Omaha equalized in first-half stoppage time to restore the 1-0 lead. Joe Brito, a former New England Revolution youth standout, volleyed past goalkeeper Eric Dick at the near post to put the Owls ahead in the 51st minute.
The Loons enjoyed a 73.4 percent possession advantage and a 16-8 shooting advantage, but the final product was lacking on too many occasions.
“I’ve participated in these tournaments”, Heath explained, “I’ve always been the underdog. I remember traveling to Sporting Kansas [City] with Orlando City as a USL team and winning to advance to the quarterfinals, just like they did today.
“And if you don’t approach the game correctly, these are professional kids who, for some of them, this could be the most important game they’ve ever played. To their credit, they played as if it were a major game for them. We didn’t do it. So many of our players simply coasted through the game, thinking that was enough. It isn’t.”
Minnesota had defeated Forward Madison FC of the USL League One in the third round to get to this point. Then came a two-day rain-delayed win over the Colorado Rapids, with heavy storms putting a monkey wrench in the schedule.
MNUFC couldn’t keep their winning streak going, as this defeat comes after a league-wide record of 1W-3L-1D.