Minnesota United’s Road to the Final – in Photos
Adrian Heath’s Minnesota United have taken the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by storm, scoring an astonishing 15 goals en route to this year’s Final – a first-ever of any kind for the club. Darwin Quintero has led the Loons to their historic date on August 27 against Atlanta United at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with an astonishing level of attacking output. His six goals and endless creativity going forward have been the driving force for a squad made sturdier this year with the presence of former Open Cup winners Ike Opara and Osvaldo ‘Ozzie’ Alonso on the defensive side of things. Join usopencup.com for a look back (in photos) at Minnesota United’s historic sprint to the Final.
Few gave upstarts Minnesota United (who hadn’t won an Open Cup game in their short history) much of a chance when Sporting Kansas City – 2017 Open Cup winners led by Peter Vermes – came to Saint Paul for the 2019 Fourth Rounder. But a 4-1 win for the home Loons changed minds and set the side up for an historic run to the Final.
Up next was a road test against another recent winner. Darwin Quintero was once again the man of match when Minnesota upended holders Houston Dynamo’s hopes of a repeat. His two strikes in a 3-2 come-from-behind Open Cup classic put his tally at four goals in just two games.
Also outstanding in the Round of 16 contest in Houston was defender Ike Opara – something of a legend in recent Open Cups. He was crucial in Sporting Kansas City’s run to the title two years ago and his arrival in Minnesota at the start of this season has coincided with the Loons’ sudden relevance in both league and Cup play (and it’s no coincidence).
Another new arrival to the United locker room is Osvaldo ‘Ozzie’ Alonso. One of the toughest and smartest holding midfielders in MLS history, the Cuban-born player has been critical in Minnesota’s run to the Final (which will be his record sixth Open Cup Final after losing one with Charleston Battery and winning four with Seattle Sounders).
Goals, Goals and more goals. Of Minnesota United’s 15 goals, Darwin Quintero leads the pack with six of them. Angelo Rodriguez has five. Mason Toye has two. Jan Gregus, Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay all have one. It’s a goal party in Saint Paul.
The Quarterfinal at home against USL Championship Cinderellas New Mexico United began terribly for the home side at their new Allianz Field in Saint Paul. But after going down early, the Loons roared back to win the day 6-1 and book a place in the Semis.
Six goals in the Quarterfinal was a good indication of the kind of attacking power Minnesota United have brought to the 2019 Open Cup. In all, the Loons have scored 15 goals in the space of just four games en route to the Final.
The Semifinal in Saint Paul against the Portland Timbers – who knocked out fancied LAFC in a previous round – was always going to be a battle. And so it was. A late goal was required from young Mason Toye to seal the 2-1 win and send Gio Savarese’s men back home to the Northwest.
Mason Toye, still just 20, has turned on the heat in the 2019 Open Cup. He’s scored a pair of game-winning goals – including the late breakaway against Portland to seal the 2-1 result and put the Loons into the Final.
The Wonderwall has done its part too. Minnesota United’s Allianz Field opened during this year’s Open Cup and already looks like one of the best soccer-specific stadiums in the country. The Wall of fans behind one goal – known as the Wonderwall – is equal parts intimidating and charming. And they can sing a bit too.