Professional soccer continues to draw crowds in the United States.
With only five games left of the season and playoffs fast approaching, Minnesota United defeated the determined Portland Timbers, 3-2, at TCF Bank Stadium last Saturday night.
The Timbers played mean offensively during the first half, keeping Minnesota in a defensive gridlock. The Loons fought with tenacity, saving the ball from sinking in their contested goal.
The tables finally turned in the 18th minute, as Minnesota midfielder Fernando Bob broke the offense as he launched a calculated ball up the field toward forward Darwin Quintero.
Quintero fell upon it, working past a defender and beating the goalkeeper off their line. Midfielder Romario Ibarra rushed the outside and closed in on the quick pass to him by Quintero.
Spectators wailed with excitement as Ibarra scored the first point of the game with Quintero’s smart set up. The Loons celebrated, and the stadium cheered with exhilaration as Ibarra’s name echoed throughout the crowd.
The remainder of the first half played out nearly the same, with the Timbers fighting to keep the ball in the offense, and Minnesota working openings in their favor. Quintero and Ibarra worked off each other’s skills; Quintero with his ability to play the field and Ibarra’s quick thinking.
After two more failed attempts at a goal by the pair, Ibarra made his second point of the game after catching a pass from Quintero and running the ball to a near-unguarded goal.
However, Ibarra’s celebration was short lived as he trotted from the goal grabbing his hamstring. He was later pulled from the game for a suspected injury.
Less than three minutes until halftime, defender Michael Boxall of the United scored his second goal of the season with a corner throw from Quintero, placing Minnesota 3-0.
Boxall’s score was almost unexpected and he leapt into the air, drew his fist to the sky and blew a kiss to his new fiancé in the spectator boxes. A week earlier, Boxall’s fiancé predicted he would score his second goal.
The second half of the game the Timbers amped up their offensive strategy to win back their losses.
Portland defender Alvas Powell sank the team’s first goal in the 55th minute with a corner kick passed to him. The shot gained in distance and sailed through gaps between players before striking the net.
The Timbers’ strategy continued to prove effective, and within almost 10 minutes of Powell’s play, Portland’s midfielder Sebastian Blanco rushed through Minnesota’s goal box and scored their team’s second point.
However, Portland’s comeback fell short of time as Minnesota kept up their defense. Even as the game went into 6 minutes stoppage time, Portland lost to Minnesota 3-2. The 6 minutes of stoppage time were wasted by Portland as their team slowed and accepted defeat.
Saturday’s game drew a larger than expected crowd of 24,525 people, ready to get their love of American soccer on. And on the sidelines was a young photojournalist, fueled by the energetic heat of the crowd to see it.
Feature photo by Gage Cureton | MSU Reporter.