Musings on the St Louis City SC and Minnesota United FC Rematch: Return of the Loons
by Jason Goodbody
What a victory. After weathering a Minnesota Loon assault and torrential rains, St Louis City goes into the record books yet another time, now tying LAFC with the most wins by an expansion team at 16. Out of this inspired match, the musings flowed. Let's get to it.
For the life of me, I had no idea that was how they pronounced Allianz Field (a·lee·uhnz). Just never thought about it before. Sounds like a children's tag game.
Like a Dierbergs rotisserie chicken, the CITY roster continues to rotate. What appeared to be a super risky lineup to us non-MLS managers turned out to be the right call. With three games in 8 days requiring the management of player load and minutes, a critical match with Sporting Kansas this upcoming Saturday, and an opportunity to secure top of the Western Conference, coach Bradley Carnell kept a bulk of the more familiar starters out of the initial lineup. Centerback stalwarts Joakim Nilsson and Tim Parker weren't even dressed for the game. And yet it all worked out.
Among his starting XI, Josh Yaro, John Bell, Kyle Hiebert, and Célio Antonio Pompeo Pinheiro Martins (love that he has 5 names) were all playing for St Louis CITY's Next PRO's team this time last year and doing exceptionally well at this level. It is simply astounding to see what this team is accomplishing with the roster but Carnell said he hadn't a second doubt to play this lineup as they all have made significant contributions throughout the season. Still made me a bit concerned seeing that lineup. But what do I know?
Bürki's yellow card and resulting penalty kick - In an attempt to gather a mishandled water-soaked ball, Bürki gave Loon midfielder Hassani Dotson a hug and was rightfully carded. Much has been discussed if Bürki should have gotten a red card but hear me out. Bürki didn't deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) for two reasons; first, Dotson didn't have a clear chance to get that ball and secondly, as is commonly known, there is no such thing as an obvious goal scoring opportunity when the MLS All-Star Roman "LL" Bürki is in goal. Ergo, no red card. That's just logic right there.
Up until the second half, a heavily rotated CITY team had kept the Minnesota United FC Loons at a stalemate, the Bürki penalty kick notwithstanding. Like the two skilled fencers Inigo Montoya and Westley from The Princess Bride, the teams lunged and parried and counterattacked while neither dominated the field of play. And then a narrative began to form, a narrative that professional photographer and sideline mainstay Jason Patrylo had too skilled an eye to let go unnoticed and shared with me as I was writing this very paragraph...great minds as they say. After 58 minutes of both teams being locked in a futile back and forth, Carnell looked to Minnesota coach Adrian Heath as if to say "There's something I have to tell you….I am not left handed", and then proceeded to sub in João Klauss, Aziel Jackson and Eduard Löwen. Then the iconic scene played itself out through the dizzying maneuvering by AZ, controlled riposting by a Löwen-led midfield, and much jumping and leaping by Klauss, all leading to CITY being victorious over Heath's squad. The metaphor would have been more satisfying had Carnell hit Heath with a merciful blow to the back of the head leaving him to fight another day and potentially join forces later… and if Heath was a Spaniard. But a great metaphor nonetheless.
After Josh Yaro received a yellow card for a high kick and infraction against Jeong Sang-Bin, it was rumored that the league, through their 'mistaken identity' rule, is attempting to reassign the yellow card to the ball itself, which had instead been the culprit who ruthlessly struck the Minnesota forward in the face. No word yet if Yaro will have his booking rescinded.
So happy for this win. I truly thought we'd be tying our way through the remainder of the season. Whew!!!
So happy for Njabulo Blom who got his first professional goal ever. Blom self-reported that all previous attempts had sent the ball consistently over the crossbar in both games and in practices. He was as surprised as everyone else and claimed that it must have been a miracle. Divine intervention will always be accepted.
So now we look towards the re-rematch against Sporting Kansas and the last of the three game Darby-Que series. See you all in CITYPARK.
Check out musings from the LAFC Rematch.
Photos Courtesy of St Louis CITY SC