Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Ugly upset: Minnesota United lose to third-tier union Omaha in US Open Cup


When Minnesota United scored an easy sixth-minute goal against Union Omaha on Wednesday, it looked like the top-flight MLS side would make quick work of the third-tier USL outfit in Wednesday’s US Open Cup Round of 16 at Allianz Field.

It had a shadow when the Loons trounced New Mexico United 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2019 national tournament.

Instead, Omaha scored an equalizer just before halftime, took the lead shortly after the break and pulled off a massive 2-1 upset.

It is clearly in contention for its worst defeat to Minnesota in club history.

Loons manager Adrian Heath chose to start a mix of starts and backups with a look at a big MLS home match against New York City on Saturday. The sick groin of rested star Emanuel Reynoso and leading scorer Robin Laud, Heath still has two named starts in Luis Amarilla and Adrian Hunou.

Hunou scored, but Amarilla’s drought without a goal extended to nine games played. Amarilla and the others couldn’t take advantage of the first-half scoring opportunity, and it came back to bite.

Union Omaha, the defending USL League One champions, were the first third-tier side to upset an MLS enemy when they defeated the Chicago Fire in penalty kicks in the third round on April 19.

Omaha will play on the road against either Houston Dynamo or Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals on June 21-22.

The Loons were unbeaten in three Open Cup games against lower-level competition since 2017, with a penalty kick victory over FC Cincinnati in 2018, before joining MLS and New Mexico United in 2019, when they advanced to the championship match. So 2- lost. 1 for Atlanta United.

There were 13 MLS sides in the Round of 16, two from the second tier USL Championship and one from Omaha, the third tier USL League One.

Minnesota broke Omaha’s defense in the sixth minute with a nifty combo from Kervin Arriaga to Franco Fragapen to Huno to a 1-0 lead.

The Loons gave up the lead in the stoppage time of the first half. A long ball from goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu was led by John Scherers, and Hugo Kemetani went past Minnesota’s back line and beat goalkeeper Eric Dick near the post.

Captain Michael Boxall appealed for Kemetani to be offside, but to no avail.

Boxall’s unsuccessful header clearance in the 51st minute went backward and straight to Joseph Brito, who fired a shot in front of Dick in the 51st minute.

Arriaga was bleeding from his nose after hitting Omaha’s Noe Meja in the 27th minute. He made out with fellow Honduran Joseph Rosales.

The Loons had a very small bench with only four field players who became even thinner after all of Rosales’ first half. Nico Hansen and home players Aziel Jackson and Devin Paddleford were the only reserves.

While watching the MLS game against New York City on Saturday, Heath said he would not risk any players, and that is why leading scorer Laud was out with a groin injury. But Star Reynoso, captain Will Trapp, main centre-back Bailey DiBassie and left-back Kemar Lawrence were also left without injury.


Loons goalkeeper Dene St Clair was called up on Wednesday for Canada’s men’s national team for friendly matches against Iran and CONCACAF Nations League matches against Curaçao (June 9) and Honduras (June 13). … Arriaga is expected to be called to Honduras. He and Boxall (NZ) may leave for the national team ahead of Saturday’s MLS game against New York City after they were suspended from that match for collecting a yellow-card. … Lod will lead the Finland national team after Saturday. … MNUFC2 midfielder Molick Khan, 18, will join the Trinidad and Tobago national team.

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