While D.C. United is trying to make tactical changes to realize Wayne Rooney's vision for the club, the absence of strikers Taxi Fountas and Ola Kamara had the Black-and-Red lined up in a 4-4-2 at the whistle. Minnesota United continued to adhere to head coach Adrian Heath's preferred 4-2-3-1, with Luis Amarilla up top and Franco Fragapane and Emanuel Reynoso poised to bring the Loons' attack up the wings.
Much to the delight of home supporters, Reynoso quickly slipped behind D.C. United's back line, catching defender Steven Birnbaum off guard in the 13'. Amarilla's quick thinking backheel flick of an assist allowed a perfectly positioned Reynoso to put the Loons on the board early.
Despite D.C.'s attempts to capitalize on set pieces - both Kimarni Smith and Michael Estrada had decent chances but missed the attempt- the Black-and-Red would head to the locker room behind.
The situation did not improve for the Black-and-Red in the second half as Reynoso notched a brace, scoring his second of the match in the 50'. Amarilla came in with a cross from the left to find Reynoso waiting in the box. With a quick touch, he levied a left-footed shot to cut right past D.C.'s defense.
While Amarilla tried to play a through ball to Fragapane in the 56', he was thankfully caught offside. Minnesota's attack was undoubtedly a danger to the Black-and-Red squad all evening; however, in this instance, D.C. was spared. Interim head coach Chad Ashton had made adjustments at halftime to account for Minnesota's speed in transition, but the Black-and-Red were still unable to mount a successful counterattack and find the back of the net.
Although D.C. United played better than they had on the road in a while; they are a team in an intense transition period. A series of poor turnovers by the Black-and-Red allowed the Loons to mount their precision attacks with ease. As D.C.'s players are now called upon to shift the tactics they've become accustomed to over the past 18 months; it will remain a challenge to compete against sides that are more solid in their identity, like Minnesota.
D.C. United will return to Audi Field to face Bayern Munich for the Audi Football Summit on Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30 pm ET. For their next regular season match, the Black-and-Red will remain in the District to take on CF Montreal on Saturday, July 23 at 8 pm ET.
- No Taxi, no party. Taxi Fountas' absence was certainly felt. As one of the Black-and-Red's top goal scorers (along with a missing Ola Kamara) his lack of presence deflated D.C.'s attack significantly.
- Jackson Hopkins is one to watch. Jackson Hopkins continues to shine. The homegrown player stepped up once again and put in a strong performance against a tough Minnesota side. It's no wonder he's piqued Wayne Rooney's interest.
- Growing pains for D.C. United. The Black-and-Red's shifting tactics to manifest Wayne Rooney’s vision have the team in a period of transition. As D.C. waits for arriving players, deals with injuries, and works on the full implementation of Rooney's style of play, interim head coach Chad Ashton said the squad needs to maintain a "next guy up" mentality.
MLS Regular Season - Game 19
Minnesota United: 2 Reynoso (13' and 50')
Minnesota United (4-2-3-1): Dayne St. Clair, Bakaye Dibassy, Michael Boxall, Kemar Lawrence, D.J. Taylor, Emmanuel Reynoso (Abu Danladi 90"), Robin Lod, Wil Trapp (Joseph Rosales 20'), Luis Amarilla (Jacori Hayes 83'), Franco Fragapane (Oneil Fisher 82'), Bongokuhle Hlongwane
D.C. United (4-4-2): Rafael Romo, Brendan Hines-Ike, Steven Birnbaum, Sami Guediri (Russel Canouse 81'), Andy Najar (Chris Odoi-Atsem 50'), Kimarni Smith (Nigel Robertha 46'), Drew Skundrich, Chris Durkin, Michael Estrada (Abdoul Zanne 87'), Sofiane Djeffal (Tedi Ku-DiPietro 50'), Jackson Hopkins
D.C. United: Guediri 80'