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In Allianz Field’s historic first game, Loons settle for tie with New York

New York City midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) is tripped by Minnesota United midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (6) in action Saturday, April 13. Alonso received a yellow card at Allianz Field. David Berding / USA TODAY Sports1 / 2
Minnesota United midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (6) celebrates with teammate defender Francisco Calvo (5) after Alonso scored a goal in the first half against New York City at Allianz Field Saturday, April 13. David Berding / USA TODAY Sports2 / 2

ST. PAUL -- The first events in Allianz Field history came fast and furious.

Minnesota United’s first goal in its new St. Paul stadium came from defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso in the 13th minute. It gave Loons supporters early positivity that a game with so much build up could produce victory.

New York City’s Valentin Castellanos scored the first opponent goal in the 16th. With Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s goal in the 18th, it was the first join recall to how Loons can’t shake the brutal defensive reputation that plagued their first two years in MLS.

After Loons’ Angelo Rodriquez’s equalizer in the 20th — is this moving quick enough? — the first own goal went to New York ‘keeper Sean Johnson in the 32nd.

Minnesota and New York settled for a 3-3 tie before a sellout crowd 19,796 on a chilly, cloudy Saturday afternoon. Despite nine corner kicks, the Loons fell to 3-2-1, while New York stayed winless at 0-1-5.

In the second half, a New York City goal was waived off after a video review in the 60th minute, but Tajouri-Shradi’s scored his second goal on a free kick four minutes later.

The first game for the $250 million venue in the Midway neighborhood carried a lot of emotions from misty-eyed head coach Adrian Heath during the Star Spangled Banner to the crying of former Minnesota Thunder CEO Djorn Buchholz.

The nearly 3,000 fans in the south stand marked the occasion by raising an massive tifo that harkened back to history beyond the Thunder, who spanned 1995-2009.

The banner with stretched the entire 75-yard width of the field, with the logos of Kicks, Strikers, Thunder, Stars and Loons.

It read: “A storied club finds its home at last.”

While many of the club’s staff displayed a nervous energy pregame, Nicholas Bisbee, one of those club’s intense supporters, was calm. After a full-throated march to the match, Bisbee, one of the founders of the 400-strong True North Elite supporters group, felt everything was serene.

The supporters sought a few things in the new digs: the ability to bring in smoke, hang tifo, fly flags in a safe-standing supporters section. Check, check, check and check. Bisbee was thrilled with how in the process, the supporters have a strong relationship with the club and within the individual supporters groups.

“We got everything we wanted,” Bisbee said. “Now it’s time to savor it because this is the story we tell our grandchildren.”

Buchholz, the former CEO of the Minnesota Thunder, was working in Los Angeles before a flight Friday night. After spending his own money to keep the Stars alive in 2010, he cried when he saw the stadium from the back seat on University Avenue of an Uber on Saturday morning

“There was no chance I was going to miss this game,” Buchholz said from the nearby Black Hart bar before the game. “… After the dark days, this is something else.”

Then, Thunder had a staff of about six and an office on the 21oo block University Avenue. They went nearly five months without paychecks, Buchholz said, due to the absentee ownership of Dean Johnson.

“To walk out and see that cathedral they built is — I’ve never felt more proud in my entire life,” Buchholz said.

After the game, United fans went around to the fans, showing appreciate for their support.

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