A first-half goal from Brazilian midfielder Daniel Mendes was all the NASL Spring Champion Minnesota United FC needed to extend their unbeaten streak to six games after defeating the visiting Carolina RailHawks, 1-0, in front of a crowd of 7,287 during Thursday Night Fútbol at NSC Stadium.
"I thought we started a bit sluggish, but then we started to play some really good soccer," said United coach Manny Lagos. "We had some great movement and created great chances and I think it was a deserved goal from that type of positive play. We just didn't have the killer instinct to get a second goal. It's nice to get another three points and six through two games. We have built some positive momentum with the team getting some good results."
Minnesota got the lone goal in the 26th minute of the game. Defender, Connor Tobin of the RailHawks, played a bad touch out to give United a corner. United defender Justin Davis took the kick and sent it through the traffic in the box and found a charging Cristiano Dias who touched the ball back towards goal. Daniel Mendes was waiting near the goal line to tap home Dias’ ball to give United the 1-0 lead.
Both sides had several chances on goal, but Minnesota had the most promising attempts. Carolina struggled to challenge Minnesota keeper Mitch Hildebrandt, who was able to come off his line to easily deal with the Carolina attack. RailHawks keeper Scott Goodwin had a busy half, having to make several diving clearances to protect his goal.
After the half, United took a more defensive stance and used a counter attacking strategy to maintain their lead. Hildebrandt was called on much more in the second to keep the clean sheet, getting some help from his defenders and the posts.
Carolina had the best chance to level the match in the 74th minute after Aaron King broke through the Minnesota defensive line. His inside-foot shot beat the outstretched arms of Hildebrandt, but clanged off the right post of the goal. King nearly put in the rebound, but Hildebrandt stuck out an arm in desperation to knock the ball away from the RailHawks forward.
A bad challenge by United defender Justin Davis in the 78th minute sparked a scuffle between the two teams that changed the dynamic of the match. After the dust settled, red cards were issued to Davis and Carolina’s Kupono Low for the fight. Both teams continued on with ten men for the remainder of the match.
The victory also extends Minnesota’s home unbeaten streak in NASL encounters to six games, while Carolina drops its third consecutive match.