United extends unbeaten streak 28 Jul 14

Atlanta, GA (Saturday, July 26th, 2014) –  Minnesota United FC (2W-1T-0L, 7pts) failed to come away with three points in Atlanta as the Silverbacks (1W-1T-1L, 4pts) stole a result from the Loons with a late penalty kick goal that leveled the score at 1-1. With the draw, United extended its North American Soccer League unbeaten streak to 7 games. 

The first half saw United take a fast start, generating chances early, but slowly tapered off as the half drew on. The Silverbacks had the majority of the shots, however many were high and wide of the net, giving United goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt a fairly easy first 45 minutes. Aaron Pitchkolan of Minnesota earned the only booking of the half with a foul that came behind the action in the 39th minute.

Again Minnesota got off to a fast start in the second half, but this time finding the mark. A through ball was played to the left side of the box to United forward Christian Ramirez who was level with the Atlanta defensive line. The Silverbacks appealed for offside to the referee and watched helplessly as league-leading goal-scorer Ramirez dribbled past Atlanta keeper Joe Nasco and put the ball in the back of the net, good for his seventh tally on the season. 

United had a chances to double their lead, including a close range shot from midfielder Daniel Mendes that slammed off the crossbar. Other chances were stopped by offside calls from the assistant referee.

Atlanta increased the pressure on the Minnesota goal as the game went on, throwing more men forward with each passing minute. The final five minutes of the match were spent inside or around Minnesota’s penalty area, forcing the United defense to make desperate clearances.

The breakthrough for Atlanta came late in the match as a foul just outside the box gave the Silverbacks a free kick in the 90th minute. Pablo Cruz stepped up to take the kick and fired it into the four-man United wall. The ball struck the arm of Daniel Mendes and the referee pointed for a penalty kick as United players swarmed in protest. Cruz easily slotted the ball past Minnesota keeper Mitch Hildebrandt to level the match at 1-1.

After the match, several players continued to object to the referee’s decision as Atlanta fans rejoiced at saving a point from the Spring Champions. Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos was not happy with the result either.
 
“I thought the guys played really well defensively, we could’ve been better offensively,” said Lagos. ”Unfortunately it seems to me at this point the referee decided to be involved in the result today.”