Emanuel Reynoso wore a thousand-yard stare.
Minnesota United looks miles away from the team they appeared to be a week ago.
The face of Loons’ star midfielder said it all from the back row of the bench after the Loons allowed three consecutive goals in a stunning 3-0 loss to FC Dallas at Allianz Field on Saturday afternoon.
Combined with a 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, Minnesota’s defense is drowning and their previous stretch of one loss in 11 games is a fading memory.
After a tight opening 54 minutes Saturday, one crack led to the dam breaking wide open.
Center back Michael Boxall’s failed clearance became an own goal came at 54:03, followed by D.J. Taylor falling down and giving space for Alan Velasco’s right-footed goal at edge of 18-yard box at 55:38 and Boxall getting beat on Jesus Ferreira’s header goal, which came right down Main Street of Minnesota’s defense at 57:45.
All told, it was a total of three minutes and 42 seconds of real time, but it was 1:09 of game time, excluding the trio of Dallas celebrations. It felt longer to manager Adrian Heath.
“Five minutes of madness has cost us dearly,” Heath said.
Regardless of the time it actually took, the result will linger longer. Dallas (12-10-8, 46 points) moved ahead of Minnesota (13-11-5, 44 points) and into third place in the Western Conference standings. The Loons have one regular-season game in hand on Dallas, with the Loons having five matches to go before MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Certain fixtures take on more significance at certain times of the year,” Heath said Friday. “That is what’s happening (Saturday).”
The Loons did not rise to the occasion. Goal scoring has ebbed, but more alarming is the seven goals conceded in the two-plus games since Bakaye Dibassy was lost for a season-ending quad injury.
MNUFC didn’t have the requisite roster flexibility to make a free agent addition at center back before the MLS roster freeze deadline Friday. There is no one walking in the door to save the Loons.
The Loons’ defense had its hands full with Ferreira, Velasco, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, Paxton Pomykal. Minnesota’s midfield, primarily Robin Lod and Wil Trapp, lost challenges to precede Dallas goals and Heath didn’t care for his players playing the ball backward after the first goal.
“We need to be proactive on the kickoff and not putting ourselves in the (expletive) like we did just there,” Boxall said. “… It’s tough to take. It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating, especially at home, especially at this point in the season.”
Boxall said it was reminiscent of short spans of leakiness earlier this season. “It’s a mentality thing,” he said. “I think we need everybody to be focused on their jobs from the get-go, from the whistle or the kickoff. … It’s ahrdto describe. We left ourselves open.”
Minnesota will be without Franco Fragapane at Portland and Reynoso might be in about. Fragapane’s first yellow card in the 20th minute Saturday meant, due to yellow-card accumulation, he would be suspended for the Portland Timbers game next Saturday. His second yellow card, which became red in the 69th minute, means he will serve that same one-game ban.
Reynoso exited the game in the 69th to help alleviate a right ankle injury he aggravated just before halftime. The Argentine had sat out the 3-0 loss to Salt Lake to give him some time to mend. It has lingered for weeks and was swollen Saturday night.
“The fact that he’s tweaked it again now,” Heath said. “We don’t know how badly. We will have a better idea (Sunday). But for sure, we will air on the side of caution because we need him fit and healthy.”
After Portland, Minnesota hosts first-place LAFC on Sept. 13.
“You take the big punch and you don’t get yourselves settled and ready,” Heath said about time between first and second goals. “… The third one is like school boy errors. There is not an awful lot I can say. We’ve got to erase that pretty quick.”