On a splendid, sunny Sunday afternoon when it had more than enough opportunity to win, Minnesota United’s undefeated beginning at Allianz Field ended when it was beaten by an opposing defender who lived up to his surname.
Auston Trusty’s opportunistic, point-blank goal in the 86th minute delivered Philadelphia not only the winning 3-2 result, but also its return to first place in the Eastern Conference.
It also ended United’s 3-0-3 start at Allianz Field since the $250 million stadium opened nearly two months ago.
Afterward, Loons coach Adrian Heath praised his players for producing 29 shots, a club record by seven shots. He also praised Philadelphia defenders for blocking 15 of them — and backhandedly, for also knowing just when to slow the action after his team provided plenty all afternoon.
“I’m proud of the players,” Heath said. “I thought we were magnificent.”
And yet, they walked out into the evening without hearing the strains of “Wonderwall” sung in unison, after United had allowed only one goal in its previous five home games.
Until the Union’s winning goal, United battled back from deficits. Philadelphia scored twice before halftime on an efficient penalty kick and an exacting free kick, neither of them in the run of play.
When United second-half substitute Kevin Molino tied the score in the 77th minute with his first goal on his long way back from a second torn ACL, Trusty put the game out of reach just when it looked like United might finally gain a grasp.
Union midfielder Ilsinho’s crossing pass flew over one teammate’s head but landed at Trusty’s feet inside the 6-yard box on a ball that both United defender Brent Kallman and Heath admitted he misplayed.
Trusty settled the ball with his right foot and kept it from Kallman, who had stooped low to head it rather than kick it. He popped it over oncoming, diving goalkeeper Vito Mannone before Mannone reached him.
In an instant, Trusty proved himself, well, trusty by delivering his first goal this season, United’s first home loss and first place for an improved Union team.
“To give up a goal, but to still have the character to get the third, it’s the sign of a first-place team,” Union coach Jim Curtin said.
Kallman lingered on the field afterward.
“I was just exhausted, just disappointed,” he said. “Guys put in so much work to get back into the game. We really felt like when we got the equalizer, we were going to find that goal and get three points. And then we end up getting nothing out of it.”
The Union’s Twitter account posted the winning goal with this caption: “Because maybe you’re going to be the one that saves me,” a poke at United’s victory celebration in song.
Heath credited the Union for taking the fans out of the game by delaying play.
“I thought they were very, very — shall we say — professional at knowing when to stay down,” he said. “We had the energy of the crowd going and suddenly every time the ball went into the box, somebody was down.”
United striker Angelo Rodriguez could have scored at least three goals all by himself in the flow of Sunday’s game. Union defender Kai Wagner used an outstretched foot to block Darwin Quintero’s shot at acreage of an open goal in the 62nd minute.
Twenty-nine shots are impressive, but 15 blocks might be even better.
“That’s great defending,” Heath said. “Some of their last-ditch defending was of the highest order, people throwing their bodies on the line to stop goal-bound shots. The keeper came up big when he needed to. I’m not going to stand here and criticize my players because they don’t deserve it.”