Minnesota United continued their recent skid against FC Edmonton as they dropped a 1-0 result away from home.
It took just one bad performance from recent starter Steward Ceus for Minnesota United manager Carl Craig to turn to Cameroonian national team goaltender Sammy Ndjock to help get the Loons out of their recent slump. It helped, but one goal was all it took, and the league’s stingiest defense slammed the door the rest of the way.
After dropping a 4-0 doozy at home to Miami last week, United came out ready to play Sunday afternoon. The Loons controlled the play for much of the match (52%), generating chances and getting the ball on net seven out of 11 shots.
Ndjock, back in goal for the first time since allowing “the own-goal seen round the world” last month in a friendly against Premier League side Bournemouth, was solid, stopping three of four shots on goal, and most likely locking down the starting role for at least the time being.
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The lone goal of the game came off a Tomi Ameobe header in the opening minute of the second half. His second goal of the season would be all that Edmonton needed, as the FCE defense ensured a ninth straight home victory over Minnesota.
Zero points aside, there were many positives to take away in the game, including the solid tending of Ndjock and the return to a more aggressive, controlling style of play. Homegrown local talent Ismalia Jome continues to impress with every game, growing stronger and more confident on the attack, and displaying tantalizing speed on the rush to either end. He will be a key part of the club’s future, especially when it makes the jump to MLS next year.
Next up for United is a mid-week match as it hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies in what now becomes a critical six-point affair. Still fourth in the combined NASL standings with 27 points, Minnesota is firmly behind the league-leading Indy Eleven and FCE with just 11 points in the Fall Season.
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With the rest of the league just four points back at worst – the Rowdies just three back – they’ll need to right the ship fast in order to stay in playoff contention. If today was any indicator, the Loons are not far off.