Loons’ win over Timbers gets spicy with a first-half skirmish

MLS wrapped up its two-legged “Rivalry Week” on Saturday, and to show how Minnesota United can be a nomad this time of the year, the Loons played the Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers. Not exactly border battles.

United’s deepest rival is supposed to be Sporting Kansas City, but the league has overserved that matchup on a yearly basis, and K.C. now has newcomer St. Louis City taking up its time.

However, the Loons’ 2-1 win over Portland on Saturday at Allianz Field did get spicy.

In the 42nd minute, Timbers forward Jonathan Rodriguez and Caden Clark exchanged words, and Rodriguez gave him two forearm shivers. Dayne St. Clair intervened with a chest bump to Rodriguez, followed by some more comments. St. Clair likes to cook, but no dinner invites were offered.

Micky Tapias then gave a slight push to Rodriguez, and the two touched foreheads as if they were bulls locking horns. Timbers teammates came to back up Rodriguez before it was quickly broken up by Loons coach Eric Ramsay and others.

Tapias and Rodriguez were booked with yellow cards for the incident.

Loons defender D.J. Taylor said MNUFC was trying to stay focused on seeing out the match, but he took a verbal shot after the win was wrapped up.

“It is definitely something we were trying to focus on, not getting caught up in the game against Portland,” Taylor said postgame. “You know they like to fight and get dirty. So, it is about keeping your composure and just staying together. And we were able to do that, keep our focus, especially with us going with a man down. It makes you focus even more.”

Immediately after matches, Ramsay is often reluctant to discuss controversial calls before he has a chance to fully digest replays and context the following day.

“But it was one of those games, the nature of it,” Ramsay said. “Often games are like that with Portland. We were really conscious of trying not to get drawn into that. But as the game goes on, the nature of it, the added time, and the intensity of the occasion. …”

It was Ramsay’s first game against the Timbers, but even he felt a different energy.

Clark also is in his first season for the Loons, and St. Clair wanted to act as if he has played with the Wayzata native forever.

“Even a moment like the little fight shows Caden I’m someone who has his back, and he can trust in me,” he said.

Tapias was given a second yellow for taking out the legs of Nathan Fogaca in the 91st minute. That added up to a red card. He was sent off and will serve a one-game suspension for Saturday’s match at Colorado Rapids.

Ramsay said Tapias’ bookings were “collateral damage in a sense. I won’t dwell on it too much.”

Tapias shared a few Instagram stories post-match, and the pictures included him in the face of Rodriguez, a player he knows after they both played in Mexico’s Liga MX. But Tapias didn’t comment on the incident, turning his attention to the Loons, who have a five-game unbeaten streak going (4-0-1) and are second in the Western Conference with 24 points.

“Great effort from the entire team,” he wrote.

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