BLAINE, Minn. (Saturday, April 23, 2016) — Minnesota United came away with an impressive result on Saturday night, playing a man down and defeating the New York Cosmos 1-0 with a last minute goal. After losing Damion Lowe to a red card early in the second half, Minnesota struck back in the final minute with a goal from the club’s leading goalscorer, Christian Ramirez.
“We were just going into the game prepared to do what we wanted to do,” said United Head Coach Carl Craig. “It’s not so much who we’re playing against, but the fact that we go down to 10 men against a quality side like them and get the goal. It’s important that in every game you play, you got to go out and believe you can win.”
As is usually the case when these two teams meet, the opening half was high-paced and exciting. Both sides showed outstanding offensive moves that were met by excellent defending.
Both teams were able to find the back of the net, however both plays were called offside by the officials.
The Cosmos were dominant midway through the half, and Minnesota seemed to pull ahead as time went on. The Loons were able to get in behind on several through ball chances, the best coming for Danny Cruz who got a breakaway chance, only do denied by a sliding Jimmy Ockford.
As the game flipped to the second half, things began to turn bleak for United. Already on a yellow card, Minnesota defender Damion Lowe came in with a high boot challenge on the Cosmos’ Michael Lahoud. Lowe immediately knew what was coming next as the referee reached for his back pocket, a straight red card. Now left with 10 men, the Loons would have to fight to hold off a strong New York side.
Not only did the Loons fight back, they thrived. Minus a few sustained attacks by the Cosmos, United was strong on the attack. Mainly playing off the counter, United was able to beat New York over the top and down the right side. Despite being a man-down Craig opted to keep two players posted up on the New York back line.
“We started to light the house on fire in the second half and I think we showed our intent as we came out, even with the setback,” said Craig
The Cosmos were forced to strike from distance, rarely getting a chance from below the 18 yard box. An off-balance shot by Niko Kranjcar nearly put New York on the board, but missed high and wide.
Minnesota had several chances of its own, mainly coming from set pieces. Lance Laing had two curling efforts that missed by inches from dead ball chances. Ramirez just about duplicated his bicycle goal from 2014, but the shot was cleared off the line by a New York defender.
After 90 minutes of battling against adversity, Minnesota finally found its opening. Defender Justin Davis saw miles of open space ahead and began to sprint with the ball up the left side.
“When he turned on the jets I’m thinking, ‘I want a can of cider,'” exclaimed Craig. “There were so many times that we tore away, Lance had a few chances too, but it’s all history.”
While at full speed, Davis hooked the ball toward the middle, where Ramirez was running in with two defenders on him. The striker settled the ball, and with a skillful touch, placed the ball past the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and the two sliding defenders to get a very late goal for Minnesota. The 9,078 on hand at NSC Stadium erupted as the the ball crossed the line.
Six minutes of stoppage time was all that was left for the “Cardiac Cosmos” to strike back, as they have against United many times before. Throwing everything forward, New York was desperate for an equalizer. United’s defense was up to the challenge, as players threw themselves in front of shots and crosses, sacrificing everything to preserve the lead. Kranjcar nearly leveled the match as he dribbled through six defenders to pull the trigger, but once again missed the mark.
Minnesota weathered the storm, and the referee’s whistle signaled the club’s third win of the season, and the first ever against New York.
“I think the sweet part, for me is that [New York] are wearing the same pants as us in that they are a competitor,” Craig continued. “Massive story, history, and club here in the U.S. so it was great for us to get the win.
With the result, United goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock continued his clean sheet streak to three games and 334 minutes.