Minnesota United rises up for 1-0 season-opening win at FC Dallas
MNUFC got a small dose of revenge after Dallas beat them in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs last October.
Mender Garcia had a lonely first half in Saturday’s season opener at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
After receiving few touches early, the Loons striker became very popular and busy later, scoring off a rebound in the 48th minute to help Minnesota top FC Dallas 1-0.
MNUFC got a small dose of revenge after Dallas beat them in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs last October. The Loons also ended Dallas’ 13-year unbeaten run in openers.
Garcia was dangerous at other moments before subbing out in the 63rd minute. The Colombian had a breakaway in the 55th minute before Sebastien Ibeagha made contact with Garcia’s leg. To the dismay of members of the Loons dugout, there was no booking for what appeared to be a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
But Garcia matched his goal-scoring total from last season, when he arrived in the summer on a Designated Player contract. He produced only one goal in 532 MLS minutes in 2022 and notched his first of 2023 within 50 minutes.
The Loons managed two shots (none on target) in the opening 45 minutes and there was nearly no connection between the Loons four attacking players. Without Emanuel Reynoso, Robin Lod was in a central role but passes were few and far between for wingers Bongi Hlongwane and Franco Fragapane nor Garcia.
Fragapane whipped in a shot that Maarten Paes parried away before it fell for Garcia to capitalize on.
The Loons produced a clean sheet against a potent FC Dallas attack including Jesus Ferriera, Alan Velasco, Paul Arriola and Sebastian Lletget.
Minnesota had averaged less than one point per game when Reynoso has been sidelined since September 2020, but they netted a big three points to begin the season with their two-time MLS All-Star suspended by the league without pay.
Garcia started with Luis Amarilla not in the match-day roster after he traveled to Paraguay to obtain his U.S. green card this week.
New center back Micky Tapias made his Loons debut at center back next to stalwart Michael Boxall. Tapias had a giveaway near the end of the first half, but helped snuff out the ensuing attack.
FC Dallas had seven corners to none for Minnesota in the first half.
Hassani Dotson, who tore the ACL in his right knee on April 22, returned as a sub on Saturday. Joseph Rosales also came in as a second-half sub as manager Adrian Heath tried to clog the midfield with the lead.
Second-year forward Tani Oluwaseyi made his MLS debut in stoppage time.
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