Here are three observations from Real Lake Lake’s scoreless draw to Minnesota United from beat writer Alex Vejar.
1. RSL gets a point
The Loons are pretty good at home.
Even in 2017, their expansion year, they won seven games and drew six. Since then, Minnesota has won 22 games at home (Allianz Field opened in April 2019).
RSL has been just one of many victims to Minnesota’s prowess at home, having lost four straight games there heading into Sunday. Real finally left that statistic behind them.
None of the players or coach Freddy Juarez spoke specifically about Minnesota and finally getting a result in that locale. For the team, it was more about earning in a hard-fought point during a season where winning at home has become more elusive than normal, and in a game where RSL was outshot on goal 6-2 in the second half.
“You sometimes need some of those,” Juarez said. “It’s gut-checking and you find out what you’re made of. It’s not easy against a good opponent. You have to scratch and claw and do anything you can to preserve a point. And we did all of that. So you need those throughout the year so you can believe in yourself when you get in these situations again.”
The Loons, however, were very aware of just how rare it is for RSL — or any team — to come away with points in Minnesota.
“We know how many points we picked up here last year,” Loons defender Defender Michael Boxall told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Very few teams got anything from us here last year, and we expected the same tonight.”
Getting results anywhere is important for RSL, which still sits just above the playoff line at eighth place in the Western Conference. And even though they don’t say it publicly, it has to matter on some level that they no longer have to face questions about losing every road game in Minnesota.
At the very least, much like Juarez said, it will give them some more confidence for the next time they travel there.
2. Justen Glad gets a B+
Juarez said something intriguing when asked how he felt about defender Justen Glad’s performance at left back, a position in which he had never started in his MLS career.
“We thought he would help us and nothing would change offensively, but defensively we knew it could be potentially challenging,” Juarez said.
That’s the RSL coach admitting that he made a move that, if things went bad, would hurt the team. Glad was placed in that position, Juarez also said, to rest of the legs of Donny Toia, who usually starts at left back. Because RSL doesn’t have any depth at that position, Juarez had to do something.
Fortunately, Glad held his own. His side of the field — Minnesota’s right, attacking side — features some dynamic players for the Loons, particularly Emanuel Reynoso, who got off three shots on target.
“Justen Glad did a heck of a job,” Juarez said. “Did he get caught on some scrambling moments? Of course he did. We all did. But I would give him a very good showing. B-plus, B — A, we got a shutout. From one day to the other, we put him in there and we got what we needed from him.”
Glad usually plays the center back position. But with a tighter schedule and more rotation, he’s had to shift around a little bit. He played right back in the most recent game, a position normally occupied by Aaron Herrera. From that experience, he said he learned to pace himself offensively.
“At the end of [that] game, I was gassed,” Glad said. “So I tried to reign it in a bit and not attack as much and kind of let Aaron do his thing.”
Glad also credited his teammates for helping him.
“I knew it would be a challenge going into the game playing out of position,” Glad said. “But I had [Justin] Meram putting in a shift in front of me, I had Nedum [Onuoha] on my right. So I had good help around me and they really helped make it easy.”
3. Reynoso can play
Minnesota did the right thing signing — and waiting months for — Reynoso, an attacking midfielder, on a designated player deal. He’s a 24-year-old assist machine and is only going to get better.
Reynoso could’ve easily had two goals against RSL had it not been for Andrew Putna’s sublime shot-stopping. But he still showed just how dangerous he can and will be for the league going forward.
Just look at how easily he settles the ball, cuts away from Nedum Onuoha and gets a pristine shot on goal that only didn’t go in because Putna’s chest is apparently made of reinforced steel. And according to one of the Loons play-by-play announcers, the right isn’t even Reynoso’s preferred direction.
Then there’s his passing. It’s not every day you see a player put a back heel pass through three defenders, into space, right into the path of a teammate.
Another example of Reynoso’s crisp passing is below. Perfectly weighted, through the RSL defense. It’s just pretty.
Reynoso hasn’t even been with Minnesota for a month yet and already he’s building this kind of chemistry with his teammates and making dangerous runs for goal scoring opportunities. Just imagine what kind of impact he’ll make in 2021 with (hopefully) a full season to work with.