Cincinnati FC and Minnesota United are through to the knockout stage of the MLS is Back tournament. These two sides secured their respective places in the next round after tonight’s matches.
Cincinnati won against New York Red Bulls 2-0, eliminating the direct rivals for second place in Group E. Cinci is now behind Columbus Crew who has all three wins and tops this assembly.
Even though just a few saw this side in the next round, this team fought bravely against all the odds, and in the end, they were rewarded for that.
“In the beginning of the tournament, nobody gave us a chance, we proved them wrong,” said midfielder Haris Medunjanin. “We showed the league that we are a good team, especially when we fight for each other.”
Medunjanin, who had his share of action in Cincinnati’s second goal, which was, in fact, an own goal scored by Florian Valot, mentioned that unlike most of the clubs in the MLS, Cinci doesn’t have any major stars, and they act as a group.
“We fight for each other. In our team, we don’t have star players like others, we need to do it as a team, and that’s what we did today, and we showed that we can battle with any team in the league.”
The Bulls were better in all the statistical categories, except in goals. They had more of ball possession, 68%-32%, shots on goal 4-2, and goal attempts 19-4. Goalkeeper Tyton had four saves for the winners of this event.
Yuya Kubo scored two minutes before the halftime, getting the ball following one bad clearance and rushing towards the goal before putting it home from 20 yards.
The second goal was after Medunjanin’s corner kick when Valot accidentally sent the ball into his own net. It was a morale-blowing goal, because Bulls had the edge over Cinci, and this one buried all their efforts to come back.
Meanwhile, Minnesota played 2-2 against Colorado Rapids, who even though didn’t have any chances of advancing, showed incredible motivation in this one.
With this one point, Minnesota finished in the second place of Group D, avoiding the possibility of being among the third-placed teams and going through all the rankings stuff.
The game didn’t start well for them, as Colorado took the lead. Kei Kamara scored what was the 1,000th goal for the Rapids in their MLS history. That happened in the 19th minute of the game. Seventeen minutes later, United responded through Ethan Finlay, and the same player turned the result upside down two minutes before the halftime.
It would seem that the momentum is on Minnesota’s side, and the game would be ended with their routine win. However, Colorado showed resistance and mental toughness, managing to equalize in the 59th minute.
Jonathan Lewis was the scorer.
Up next, Minnesota meets Columbus Crew in the round of 16. The game takes place on July 28, and all the United members are aware of the difficulty of the challenge.
“I know they’re a very good team, they’re well-coached, they’ve got good individuals, spent a lot of money on a lot of players. And they’ve been very impressive,” said Adrian Heath, Minnesota’s coach.
Apart from this matchup, three more Round of 16 pairs are known. Orlando City faces Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union is playing against the New England Revolution, and San Jose Earthquakes are facing Real Salt Lake City. Other pairs will be completed pretty soon, as the knockout stage begins on July 25.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.