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Shorthanded Loons grind out 1-1 draw with FC Dallas

Minnesota United took the field against FC Dallas on Saturday with 11 players, per the laws of the game, but they did so with a whopping 11 players absent, including eight away on international duty.

The shorthanded Loons didn’t look around for someone else to bail them out. MNUFC scored first and held on for a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Allianz Field.

MNUFC (8-3-5, 29 points) dropped two points at home, but making do without many key players responsible for nearly 6,000 MLS total minutes can be looked at as a positive. Dallas (3-8-5, 14 points), which had only two minor players away for national team duties, continues to languish in the bottom of the Western Conference.

“I was really happy with a point,” head coach Eric Ramsay said. “We wouldn’t have blown anyone away with that performance, but we needed, to an extent, that performance. We didn’t have ways of changing the game. We didn’t have loads of depth. We knew we needed to stay in the game.”

MNUFC was triggered into very high press to start the match as Dallas insisted on playing out of the back. Goalkeeper Maarten Paes’ bad pass was won by Bongi Hlongwane, and it bounced to Hassani Dotson, who slotted in the opening goal in the ninth minute.

Dallas had scored the third-fewest goals in MLS this season but has had success on set pieces. They ran a short corner, a tactic they have employed during the season, and after they worked the ball around, Liam Fraser equalized in the 15th minute.

“We were disappointed with the goal we conceded there,” Ramsay said. “It was very preventable, if you see what they’ve done over the course of the year so far. But I would say it’s one of those things sometimes where you’ve got players that aren’t necessarily in the rhythm of playing competitive minutes for long periods of time. Set plays is often one of those areas where you can lose concentration and unfortunately that is what cost us (Saturday).”

Victor Eriksson, who made his first MLS start Saturday, made a crucial recovery run and intervention to deny former U.S. men’s national team player Jesus Ferreira in the 34th minute. Ferreira got in behind Michael Boxall, but Eriksson stepped up in a big moment to keep the game level. Eriksson had a rough MLS debut at Philadelphia on March 30 but was much better Saturday.

Briefly

The Loons had four Minnesotans on the field at the same time Saturday, which felt like a record high for the local club. The foursome were Devin Padelford (Maplewood), Caden Clark (Wayzata), Kage Romanshyn (Apple Valley) and Patrick Weah (Minneapolis). … MNUFC called up four players on short-term loans for Saturday’s match: midfielders Romanshyn and Molik Jesse Khan, defender Morris Duggan and goalkeeper Alec Smir. … Romanshyn and Duggan made their MLS debuts in the second half. … Clark exited in the 88th minute with a hamstring cramp. … Micky Tapias has received his U.S. green card and will vacate an international roster spot with the summer transfer window approaching. He has been awaiting the return of his passport in Mexico and it’s setting up for him to be back in Minnesota next week. … Zarek Valentin returned from international duty with Puerto Rico and was on the bench. … The Loons printed a placard of Robin Lod to promote his MLS All-Star Game candidacy. Lod, who has 15 combined goal contributions this season, was fifth on the ballot for attacking midfielders as of midweek. He was behind, in order: Luciano Acosta (Cincinnati); Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy); Thiago Almada (Atlanta); Emil Forsberg (New York Red Bulls).

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