MN United – Despite a host of absences, Minnesota United put together an energetic performance to earn a 1-1 draw against an essentially full-strength FC Dallas side. With several debuts, organized play, and encouraging signs, the Loons’ depth pieces didn’t show any sign of dropping the standards fans have come to expect.

While some of the fresh faces had a bit of warming up to do, the whole squad performed admirably. The Loons’ 5-2-3 formation saw Sang Bin Jeong and Caden Clark as wingbacks, Victor Eriksson earn a start alongside Michael Boxall and Devin Padelford, and Jordan Adebayo-Smith leading the line with Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Franco Fragapane on either side. Wil Trapp and Hassani Dotson provided a reliable double pivot in the midfield, rounding out a slightly different lineup than we’ve grown accustomed to.

The action picked up early in this one, as the Loons cashed in on their high-press just nine minutes into the match. When Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes misjudged a pass out of the back, Bongi retrieved the errant ball at the edge of the box, dribbled inside, and left a heavy touch for Dotson to capitalize on the chaos. The midfielder tucked a driven shot into the net from the middle of the 18 for the early lead.

For the opening 20 minutes of the match, neither team was particularly dominant, trading methodical periods of possession. However, the Loons were certainly more threatening and energetic. Some timid moments kept the hosts from taking advantage of the space that Dallas left for counter attacking, but the Black and Blue were working hard and showing belief.

In the 15th minute, Dallas earned two corners in a row, and after showing some creativity on the first one, the Loons didn’t correct their shape properly before the second. A well-worked passing sequence saw Liam Fraser set up perfectly for a curling effort from the top left side of the 18, squaring the game in emphatic fashion.

Dallas maintained more possession following their equalizer, but they didn’t add any ideas or fluidity to their game. On paper, this Dallas team is stacked, but a lack of cohesion and several of their key players being slightly out of position made their attack largely toothless. Peter Musa was marked out of the game for all but a few moments and was forced to leave his position to make any kind of meaningful impact.

Despite some late pressure courtesy of a series of long throws from Devin Padelford, the Loons went into the locker room with the scores knotted up at one apiece.

The second 45 started similarly to the first, with the home side coming out hot and nearly finding the go-ahead goal. Dallas continued to keep possession in the most uninspired way possible, but as time went on, the visitors found the odd moment to spring a few effective attacks. Clint Irwin dealt with the few attempts that caused trouble, coming up with a huge save in the 69th minute to give his side a real chance to go on and grab all three points.

Wil Trapp’s performance in the midfield was superb, and while his volley early in the second half didn’t find the back of the net, he was everywhere. The midfield maestro was making tackles, connecting passes, and even throwing in some flashy skills every now and then. What a player. Does he ever get tired?

Though the match ultimately fizzled out without any more clear-cut chances, the Loons should be proud of the shift they put in. Jordan Adebayo-Smith demonstrated versatility up top, playing as a target man at times and a long-ball threat at others. Victor Eriksson put together an impressive 90-minute performance, highlighted by an excellent recovery run to keep Jesús Ferreira from scoring in the 33rd minute. Debuts for Morris Duggan and Kage Romanshyn Jr. were bright spots, and for several minutes in the second half, four Minnesota natives shared the pitch for the Loons. All-in-all, that’s not bad for a 1-1 draw.

Regardless of the circumstances, this was a fantastic performance for MNUFC. While many may have expected them to struggle with so many players away, the Loons will likely walk away from this one feeling like they could have gotten more than one point. Following the result, the Black and Blue remain in third in the Western Conference on 29 points and a game in hand on leaders RSL. Next Saturday’s match against Seattle is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 p.m. CT, so get ready for another late-night Loons game.