Minnesota defeat Orlando in first ever meeting

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

In the first ever match between the two sides, Orlando City SC (6-5-2, 20 points) fell, 1-0, to Minnesota United FC (4-7-2, 14 points) on Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium. The game was also the first time Loons Head Coach Adrian Heath had faced his former club since being fired in July 2016.

“Our determination to try and get a result, and to hold onto it at the end, I thought was evident and was there for everybody to see,” said Heath (pictured above). “I think the most important thing for me was the three points. To give them some reward, because it’s really difficult to keep trying to convince players to keep doing what you’re asking them if you don’t get results.”

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

Orlando Head Coach Jason Kreis again tinkered with his line up in an away game as he made four changes to the team that lost its first home game against New York City last weekend. PC and José Aja started in defence alongside Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter.  In midfield Luis Gil and Matías Pérez García got the nod to partner Antonio Nocerino and Will Johnson while upfront the forwards were the normal pairing of Carlos Rivas and Cyle Larin. Goalkeeper Joe Bendik made his 47th consecutive start for the Lions.

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

Orlando started the game well playing some composed football and both Pérez García and Larin had decent opportunities early on that failed to find the back of the net. The Lions best chance came in the 38th minute when Rivas raced in one on one against Loons keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Rivas took his time to beat Shuttleworth only to see his shot come back off the the far post. It was a miss that the visitors would come to rue.

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

In the second half, the home side looked to assert themselves and they scored the decisive goal of the game in the 56th minute when Christian Ramirez found himself in behind the City back line. Taking a neat pass from Johan Venegas, Ramirez rounded the advancing Bendik and calmly slotted the ball home to the right hand side of the net. Following the goal, the Santa Ana native sought out Head Coach Heath on the sideline, telling him, “That was for you. I know how much this means to you.”

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

“It was an in the moment thing,” Ramirez said after the match. “I know how much this game meant to him. For everything he has done for [Orlando] and how things ended there, I made sure he got recognized for what he’s doing here.”

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

After the game Orlando Head Coach Jason Kries (pictured above) remarked “At the end of it all it’s about making plays in the penalty box. We’re getting there, we’re getting in a lot of good spaces, we just can’t quite seem to break through [and] score the goal that would have changed the game for us. We just move forward. It’s not a question of how, it’s just will.”

Minnesota United , Orlando City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Miinnesota

The night belonged to Minnesota and Heath though.  “We were a little bit surprised with the Orlando shape, because they don’t normally play a 4-4-2 with a flat midfield,” said Heath. “I don’t think we used Johan Venegas enough in the first half. I don’t think we let our spare man on the ball in the first half do enough. Second half, we were a little bit better.”

He continued:I know how important it was for the rest of the staff as well. There was no getting away from it, when you worked at a club like we did for a long period of time. People forget Ian was there for a long time with me. So he was delighted as well. I keep saying I was so pleased for our players and for the crowd. You know, that’s the most important thing. That period in my career is gone. I’ll always have fond memories of it, but we have to keep doing it now. We have to keep building on what we want to do here. We have a lot going for us.”

Orlando will face a short turnaround when they return to Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday, May 31, to host D.C. United. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Minnesota heads to Kansas City to face Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday with kick off set for 4:00 p.m. CT.


Minnesota United FC Starting XI: GK Bobby Shuttleworth; D Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Marc Burch; M Sam Cronin (Collen Warner 77’), Miguel Ibarra, Johan Venegas (Jermaine Taylor 86’), Ismaila Jome (Collin Martin 79’); F Christian Ramirez

MIN Unused Subs: GK John Alvbage; D Justin Davis, Joe Greenspan; M Kevin Venegas

Orlando City SC Starting XI: GK Joe Bendik; D Jonathan Spector, Jose Aja, PC, Scott Sutter; M Antonio Nocerino (Christian Higuita 74’), Luis Gil (Giles Barnes 72’), Matias Perez Garcia, Will Johnson; F Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin

Orlando City SC Unused Subs: GK Josh Saunders; D Donny Toia, Leo Pereira; M Hadji Barry, Servando Carrasco
Attendance: 18,896

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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