MINNEAPOLIS - Adrian Heath said after a team training session on Tuesday he wanted to give the fans at Allianz Field something to cheer as Minnesota United hosted its first capacity crowd since December 2019 Wednesday night against Austin FC.
The Loons did that and more in a 2-0 victory in front of 19,209 screaming fans for their third home win of the season. Franco Fragapane and Adrien Hunou scored first half goals, and Tyler Miller had a clean sheet with several big saves as Minnesota United took a full three points from Austin.
The Loons now have points in their last five matches (3-0-2) after an 0-4 start. In the moment of the night after the match was over, Minnesota United players and staff stayed on the turf at Allianz Field for several minutes. Loons’ fans, as is tradition after a win, sang "Wonderwall."
After having the 2020 season suspended due the COVID-19 pandemic, then having to play in front of no fans for several months, it was the proper return to sports for Minnesota.
"It was something beautiful and something new because the truth is, I'm not accustomed to it. But it was beautiful to see the fans sing and lift their flags up, every single one," Fragapane said after the win.
Heath both did his part to get Loons’ fans excited pregame from the sideline, then thanked them for their energy after the win.
"It has been a great night. They started up with the singing and got the players going again. What it shows you is what supporters mean for this game," Heath said. "It's a completely different game. It's a different sport when you've got 20,000 people in the building supporting you."
Fragapane scored his second goal in as many games, giving the Loons a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute. He gathered a pass from Romain Metanire in the penalty area, flipped his hips and sent a rocket inside the corner post as the Allianz Field faithful erupted.
Eight minutes later, Fragapane started Minnesota United’s second goal off a set piece. He found Hunou on a perfectly placed corner kick, and Hunou found the corner of the net with a header. The Loons had a 2-0 lead less than 20 minutes into the night.
After an 0-4 start, the Loons now have 11 points in their last five games and are one point out of a playoff spot. Wednesday night was about welcoming back the first sellout crowd in 16 months for Minnesota United, and Loons’ fans went home happy.