Minnesota United has its second game of the week on Saturday, and it’s fairly safe to say the fans are in #PANIC mode after a lackluster draw at home with the Houston Dynamo. The bench is thin, the replacements aren’t here yet, and the ConstructionCam only shows wineaux Big Top customers (and a certain writer living in a tent on the roof). Fortunately, little of that matters with the power of simulation science.
Unlike the real-life Minnesota United, my team has a full bench. As with every simulation, I started as many current Loons as possible. The constant exception is goalkeeper Alex Ferrell, and this week, Abu Ogogo and Chris Rolfe got starts because people not named Christian Ramirez were called up for international duty.
Aaaand fuck. Less than a minute into the game, the ball found its way through traffic to Dairon Asprilla who was unguarded basically on the goal line. Red Bulls took the lead quicker than Manny Lagos reaching for his phone after reading a Wes Burdine twitter thread.
The Red Bulls were at it again 25 minutes later. Miguel Ibarra found space in the New York penalty area but mishit the first-touch shot and it went straight to the keeper. The ensuing counterattack led to a Red Bulls corner. Christian Maggio got up just high enough and sent the header straight for the far post, right past a diving Ferrell.
The Loons pulled one back in the 32nd minute when Ramirez, no doubt fantasizing about Bruce Arena’s untimely death, had his close-range shot saved. Ibarra took a chance on the rebound from a bad angle and found a way past goalkeeper Luis Robles. Christian and Miguel embraced like one of them just arrived on shore leave. I was too excited to grab a screenshot.
At halftime, the staff instructed the players to switch to more of an attacking style. Our non-set-piece defense was holding up well, and the boys had a chance to steal at least a point with another goal. It worked.
In the 51st minute, Robles opted for a short throw after making a save, but his back line decided to get cute and pass the ball around the top of the box like it was a dutchie in 1982. Ramirez intercepted and slotted the ball home for the game-tying goal. Feeling confident, I let the team keep attacking to try and snatch all three points.
The high line was our undoing though. As New York rushed forward, Felipe ripped a shot from 25 yards out and it screamed past Ferrell. It was as golazo as Football Manager can get.
From then on, Red Bulls kept the pressure and had several decent chances on goal. A late ball over the top was intercepted with Ramirez waiting underneath, and the Loons couldn’t find the equalizer. Another game where United plays as well as their opponents, but stupid mistakes cost them the points. If you’re betting on them like I am, look for them to lose a close one this weekend. Goodbye from the Big Top roof, and if they don’t change their WiFi password from “BeerIsGood”, you’ll be hearing from me again next week.