Minnesota United’s attack has been woebegone in recent weeks, to borrow a term from native son Garrison Keillor.
On Wednesday, that trend continued, with the Loons holding Houston scoreless but failing to find the back of the net to draw the Dynamo 0-0 at TCF Bank Stadium. For Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath, it wasn’t a performance that deserved three points.
“Probably from that point of view, they’ll be disappointed,” Heath said after the match. “We haven’t at least scored, they had two great chances first half. Very much gave it two halves. I thought second half we were the better team. Bobby [Shuttleworth] hadn’t anything to do. Second half, we had a couple of — one off the line — a couple of good chances. So, first half was poor, second half was better. And we probably, a fair result in the end, but they’ll probably be disappointed with their chances that they created that they didn’t at least score.”
Minnesota have now earned just two points in their last four matches, with three of those fixtures taking place at TCF Bank Stadium. The Loons have struggled to make their home field a fortress, particularly for their attack. They’ve now scored seven goals in their last six home games, with three of those tallies coming in a wild 3-2 win against Portland last month.
When the Minnesota attack was at its best, Kevin Molino was pulling the strings, scoring five goals of his own in the first 11 games of the season. However, he’s run into a bit of a cold spell lately, with no goals and just two assists in his last eight games. His last goals came against Toronto on May 13. Ahead of the season, Heath said that he thought Molino could be one of the best players in MLS this year.
“I thought he did well tonight with the chance that he had,” Heath said, defending the Trinidad & Tobago international. “[A.J.] DeLaGarza did brilliantly to clear it off the line. Kev is like a few of the others at the moment. Not a lot is happening for him. He’s not getting much of a break, but we certainly need him if we’re going to pick points up in this home stand. We need him at his best.”
As for Molino himself, he knows the chances haven’t been coming easily for him lately. “This is football, you know?” Molino remarked after the match. “I have to be tough and once I get one goal, it’s going to keep flowing. This is the thing, when you’re going through a difficult time you still smile and still enjoy what you do. Football is short, and you need to enjoy whatever you do in life. If I have to assist for the rest of the season to help somebody get goals and make us move forward, so be it.”
Molino started in a central position again, but was pushed to the right wing he had dominated during his tenure in Orlando for the second half. Alongside Collin Martin, Molino was able to create chances and get into the action more, including a near-goal that DeLaGarza kept away from the back of the net.
“It doesn’t matter where the coach puts me,” Molino said when asked what his best position was. “I just have to have the right mentality to give the effort for the group. I prefer No. 10, but anything for the team. I’m going to step up and give the best effort I can.”
For Molino and Minnesota, improvement will be crucial to getting back in the win column on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls (4 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in the US, TSN2 in Canada). A former striker in his own right, Heath replied that all it would take is one fortunate bounce for Molino to get going.
“Maybe that one like tonight going in. Maybe a break that drops into him. A couple of things that maybe drop for him tonight. But certainly need Kevin to be creative in the final third, because we’re at our best when he's playing well,” Heath said