BLAINE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota United players and coach Adrian Heath spoke Tuesday of both satisfaction and relief now that the first win at Allianz Field is out of the way.
The Loons got a goal from Angelo Rodriguez in the 82nd minute on Saturday, and it was enough to hold up in a 1-0 win over D.C. United and star Wayne Rooney. For the first time in three tries, Minnesota United soccer fans celebrated a victory with a tradition dating back to their start in Minnesota in 2011: A loud, energetic rendition of ‘”Wonderwall” by Oasis.
It was a celebration for another sellout crowd, the third straight, at Allianz Field. It was a special moment for the organization and fans.
“I was pleased for so many people. I was pleased for the ownership group, pleased for the players. More importantly, for our supporters who have been absolutely magnificent to us,” Heath said. “Now we’ve given them the one thing that they wanted.”
Keeper Vito Mannone, who hasn’t allowed a goal in more than 200 minutes, made sure to take a moment after the win to let the “Wonderwall’ experience sink in.
“It was fantastic to be honest. A moment to remember, the first one and hopefully the first of many. It was great for the fans. They expected this since day one and we wanted to deliver it, but it took us two or three games to get there,” Mannone said.
Minnesota United is in one of its better stretches of the season as the Loons prepare to host Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday in a stretch of three home games out of four and six out of seven. Mannone has recorded two straight shutouts, and the Loons have yet to lose on their home turf.
They tied New York City FC 3-3 in the April 13 opener and played to a 0-0 tie against the L.A. Galaxy before earning Saturday’s win over D.C. United. All three games at Allianz Field thus far have been in front of sellout crowds of more than 19,000.
“We have to keep building on that and making this the fortress that we hope it will be,” Heath said.
An opponent hasn’t scored on the Loons in 206 minutes, since having a lead on Toronto FC and losing 4-3. For the season, the Loons have a goal differential of plus-3 with 18 goals scored, and 15 allowed through nine games.
Mannone only had to make one save in Saturday’s win over D.C. United. He made four saves in the 0-0 tie against L.A. Galaxy.
“When we play as a group and we have discipline, I think we’ve showed in these last two games that we can be tough to score on, which is ultimately going to lead to points,” defender Brent Kallman said.
Minnesota United faces another big opportunity Saturday, hosting Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle is third in the Western Conference with 18 points, and the Loons can get within one point of Sounders FC in the standings with a clean victory.
It’s also a homecoming for Loons’ midfielder Osvaldo Alonzo, who spent 10 seasons in Seattle. Kallman expects Alonzo to be ready with plenty of energy to face his former team.
“He’s a pretty crazy, ultimate competitor as it is. I’m sure he’s got even more fuel for his fire for this one,” Kallman said. “Everybody knows how big of a game it is for him. That should give guys even more will to win.”
The Loons are 4-3-2 through nine games, in the No. 6 spot in the conference standings. The top seven teams make the MLS playoffs.
Minnesota United was 4-6 through 10 games last year.
“I think we’ve made progression. I look at the group of players I have to work with every single day. It’s by far and away the best group, mentally, physically and ability-wise. I think that’s shown in the results,” Heath said.