An old acquaintance quashed Minnesota United's five-game unbeaten streak with the Chicago Fire's 2-1 victory over the Loons on Saturday night at Soldier Field.
Chicago's well-traveled Kei Kamara, a 38-year-old former Loon, scored twice in the first 36 minutes against his former team, which had allowed only three goals combined in its 3-0-2 season start.
Until Saturday, the Loons were a perfect 3-0 on the road, with victories at FC Dallas on opening day, Colorado and last weekend at then 5-0 expansion club St. Louis City SC.
They hadn't allowed a first-half goal and were one of only three unbeaten MLS teams. Los Angeles FC and Cincinnati now are the only two.
Loons coach Adrian Heath lamented a first half from which his team couldn't recover, not even after Kervin Arriaga's powerful free-kick strike in the 57th minute gave his team chances as the clock ticked away.
Heath called that first half the "worst we played all season" and let his players know at halftime with an address veteran defensive midfielder Wil Trapp said "didn't mince words."
"I thought we were second best in every department," Heath said in a video call with reporters. "Individually, they bossed us in the first half all over the field. Collectively, they looked like they wanted it more than we did. The second half, we were a bit more like ourselves. There was a bit more purpose in our play."
Arriaga's goal gave his team a chance.
"As I said to the guys at halftime, the next goal either the game is finished or you give yourselves an opportunity to get something out of it, and that's what we did," Heath said. "The overriding feeling now is we gave the game away in the first half."
Chicago's 19-year-old goalkeeper, Chris Brady, let Arriaga's 28-yard, eye-level free kick go through his hands for the Loons' only goal. But he saved the night with three stops — starting with sub Hassani Dotson's header — from short range in the 85th minute.
Brady's work made Kamara's brace stand all night.
The Loons brought versatile veteran Robin Lod back to the starting 11 after he missed the past two games because of duty with his Finland national team. Recently acquired Sang Bin Jeong made his Minnesota and MLS debut in the 61st minute.
Heath praised the debut.
"He showed some nice touches, put two or three great free kicks in the box," Heath said. "He'll be better for getting on the field and settling down. We've got a really good player and now we have to integrate him into the group."
Kamara scored his 24th minute goal after the Fire knocked the ball all about inside the 18-yard box. Kamara got it and transferred the ball from his right foot. His left-footed shot deflected off Micky Tapias and eluded Kemar Lawrence and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.
Kamara scored again 12 minutes later when his diving header redirected a long, low cross from the right wing.
He celebrated his goals with a little dance and his signature sign of a heart he makes with his thumbs and index fingers.
"It's good to meet up with him today," Heath said. "I always had a good relationship with Kei. He obviously looks after himself. You can see that. He looked really sharp tonight."
The Loons signed Kamara for allocation money and a draft pick in September 2020, seeking veteran experience and depth for a team that in December would come within minutes of reaching the MLS Cup final with Kamara on the field.
Three weeks later, he scored a penalty kick against FC Cincinnati, becoming the first MLS player to score for eight different teams. That's easier when you have played for as many teams as Kamara has.
He now is with his 11th team. Trapp played with Kamara in 2015.
"It's a huge credit to his ability to maintain a high level, physically and mentally," Trapp said. "I thought he was great tonight."
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.