C.J. Sapong battles for the ball as the Union drew Minnesota United FC 1-1. Photo from Union twitter.

C.J. Sapong battles for the ball as the Union drew Minnesota United FC 1-1. Photo from Union twitter.

Union, Loons battle to 1-1 stalemate

In the first-ever match between the Union and Minnesota United FC, the two teams each left with a point on the historic night in Minnesota.

C.J. Sapong scored a goal just five minutes in, but the Loons answered through Ethan Finlay in the 40th minute for a 1-1 draw. The goal was Sapong’s thirteenth of the season.

Union first XI: Blake; Rosenberry, Onyewu, Elliot, Wijnaldum; Creavalle, Medunjanin, Pontius, Ilsinho, Picault; Sapong

Loons first XI: Shuttleworth; Thiesson, Calvo, Kallman, Boxall; Ibson, Finlay, Molino, Warner, Nicholson; Danladi

The Union started brightly, pressing the attack and in the fifth minute, Fafa Picault torched Sam Nicholson down the right side and fired a cross into the box which Sapong roofed for a quick 1-0 Union advantage. Both teams settled into the match with the Union having the better of play due to shoddy Minnesota passing. Union keeper Andre Blake wasn’t called upon much in the first half before the goal, save for a hard shot by Nicholson which he parried away.

The Minnesota goal started off of a Union turnover in their own end. Francisco Calvo danced through three Union players in the box and put a hard shot onto frame which Blake stopped but spilled to his left, where Finlay eventually got onto the end of it after a scramble and put it home to equalize late in the first half. The half ended 1-1.

It was the Loons that started well in the second half. Oguchi Onyewu picked up a yellow in the 55th for unsporting behavior, and Minnesota kept attacking. In the 67th minute, a ball was crossed into the box which Onyewu jumped for while being pushed in the back; his right arm made contact with the ball in an unnatural position and so referee Sorin Stoica pointed to the spot then showed Onyewu his second yellow in twelve minutes and a red as a couple Minnesota players applauded the decision. However, the video assistant referee led Stoica to rescind the card and the resultant disqualification and penalty, ruling that a foul had been committed by a Minnesota player before the handball had occurred. Onyewu was allowed to continue.

Both teams had chances in the last thirty minutes. The Union brought Roland Alberg on who missed on a couple shots. Abu Danladi nearly had the winner at the death for the Loons but he was (correctly) judged offsides. All in all, each team got one point that did neither of them any good as they play out the string.

The Union were without captain Alejandro Bedoya, who was suspended for one match for yellow card accumulation. The suspension forced Warren Creavalle into the lineup as a defensive midfielder and moved Haris Medunjanin into more of a box-to-box role.