Minnesota United joins baptism of local playoff disappointment

Nicolas Lodeiro #10 of Seattle Sounders and Osvaldo Alonso #6 of Minnesota United collide in the first half during their Western Conference Finals game at Lumen Field on December 07, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. ((Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images))

Minnesota United was 15 minutes away from history Monday night, leading Seattle Sounders 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Then in an all-too-familiar scene for Minnesota sports fans, everything fell apart. Seattle scored three goals in the final 18 minutes, including the game-winner in the final minute of stoppage time, and sent the Loons home with a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss to end the season.

In a season where they reached the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament and had games postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the team, Minnesota United was 15-plus minutes away from playing for a championship. But they were sent home with their hearts broken.

It’s the latest playoff disappointment for a Minnesota sports team. We know the history: The last men's professional team to win a championship was the Minnesota Twins in 1991.

The Twins won their second straight AL Central title this season, but were promptly swept by the Astros in a two-game series. They’ve now lost a record 18 straight playoff games.

The Vikings? They’re 0-4 in the Super Bowl, and were one win away from playing a virtual home game a few years back. After the Minneapolis Miracle, a 38-7 loss at Philadelphia.

The Timberwolves? They’ve been to the NBA Playoffs once since 2004. The coach and player to get them there, Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler, are long gone.

The Minnesota Wild? They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, and haven’t seen the Western Conference Finals since 2003.

The Gophers? The football team has had two chances to win the Big Ten West in recent years, and both have ended in losses to rival Wisconsin. The men's basketball team's last trip to the NCAA Final Four was vacated by an academic scandal.

Monday night’s meltdown in the last 15 minutes also brought back other Minnesota sports nightmares. The Vikings’ loss to the Falcons in the 1999 NFC title game after a 15-1 season, the Gophers’ loss to Michigan in 2003 with a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter, and their bowl loss to Texas Tech with a 31-point lead that ultimately got Glen Mason fired.

We can’t forget the Vikings losing 41-0 at the New York Giants with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

So where’s the bright spot? Well, we can look to the Minnesota Lynx. With Cheryl Reeve running the show, the Lynx have won four WNBA championships since 2011. But even the Lynx have had their recent playoff issues, winning just one series the last three seasons.

For now, Minnesota sports mostly can't have nice things.