NEW YORK — A push towards the right end of the Western Conference table for Minnesota United FC could very well lie on improving their dreadful returns on their games in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Or, if that doesn’t turn around, they can continue doing it the hard way and stealing points on the road, which Minnesota did once again to start off the stretch run of the Major League Soccer campaign.
Two second-half goals, one toward each of of the game’s final 45 minutes, lifted Minnesota United FC to a 2-0 away victory over New York City FC inside of Citi Field on Sunday evening as many of the teams in Major League Soccer played their first league game after the continental Leagues Cup competition. Recent acquisition Jan Gregus scored in the 53rd minute to give the Loons the lead, and Ménder Garcia added the finishing touch with a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to give Minnesota its sixth road victory in 13 away contests this season (6-1-6).
Gregus, who was acquired two weeks ago in a trade from Nashville SC, came on as a sub late in the first half, put Minnesota on the board when his right-footed strike deflected off of NYCFC midfielder James Sands before ballooning up and over outstretched goalkeeper Luis Barraza.
New York had a number of chances in the second half, and one of those nestled in the back of the net, a Monsef Bakrar shot from the top of the box. Bakrar strayed into an offside position beforehand, negating the goal. Later, NYCFC was awarded a penalty when striker Julian Fernandez went down in the box under the lunging challenge of Minnesota defender D.J. Taylor. The play was reviewed and clearly showed that Fernandez dived and the penalty was nullified.
Former NYCFC striker Ismael Tajouri-Shradi helped to seal the victory for Minnesota, as he attacked the NYCFC central defenders before playing a pass for Garcia up the middle, and the latter slammed a shot across Barraza and into the inside part of the net to seal the victory.
NYCFC has lost two straight and has not won in league play since July 31 in Montreál.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 12 pictures in total.