Loons let first-half lead slip away in 2-1 loss to New England

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Dayne St. Clair has been Minnesota United’s best player this season, but the rising Canadian goalkeeper came back down on Sunday.

St. Clair allowed a soft goal, and a poor goal-kick directly set up the second goal as the Loons squandered a first-half lead in 2-1 loss to New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.

Minnesota (5-7-3) was 5-1-1 when scoring the first goal this season, but that positive run gave way to New England (6-5-5) extending its unbeaten streak to eight straight league games.

Playmaking between Robin Lod and Emanuel Reynoso preceded the Loons taking the lead in the 38th minute. Lod threaded a prime pass to meet Reynoso on an incisive run into the box, where New England’s Andrew Ferrell fouled Reynoso to draw a penalty kick.

From the spot, Reynoso hesitated and then beat goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic to the opposite side. It was a reward for a strong first half, but Minnesota could have and maybe should have had more, including from Luis Amarilla’s redirected cross denied by Petrovic and the goalpost.

Minnesota had plenty of clever moments in the opening 45 minutes. The Loons outshot New England 10-1, including 5-0 on target, in the first half.

“We got to take something from games when we dominate like we did in the first half,” United manager Adrian Heath said.

St. Clair’s biggest mistake of the season cost the Loons the lead in the 53rd minute. Dylan Borrero’s shot took a deflection, but St. Clair went to the right side and allowed the ball to sneak underneath him. His disappointment showed as he laid on the artificial turf.

“I think other than that, he has been outstanding for us,” right back D.J. Taylor said postgame. “Guys on our team, we miss shots and plays all the time. Just unfortunately his position if you miss one you pay for it.”

Gustavo Bou gave New England the lead in the 69th minute. St. Clair’s goal kick was nowhere near a teammate, and the Revs strung together five passes before Lod fouled Dejuan Jones to set up Bou’s free kick from 27 yards out.

Minnesota started Amarilla at striker with attacking midfielders Franco Fragaapane, Reynoso and Lod. It was the preferred lineup to start the season, but that foursome had not opened a game together since April 23.

As goals didn’t come from that group, Heath tinkered with the attacking four, including moving Lod to striker and rotating in different players. No combination has created a breakthrough. And coming into the weekend, Minnesota was tied for third-fewest goals in MLS.

To that end, TV commentator Cal Williams said in the pregame show the No. 9 spot is on club’s wish list.“Suggestions are (United’s) front office are looking at center forward position once again,” he said on The CW.

Heath reiterated postgame how the club has roster spots and salary budget space available to make acquisitions for the “right player” as the summer transfer window opens July 7 and closes Aug. 4. “But the manager added, “I’m not going to go into specifics of which positions.”

BRIEFLY

The Revolution did not start goalkeeper Matt Turner in his going-away game Sunday due to a request from his new club, Arsenal, to limit his paying time, per Williams. The London club paid $6 million for the U.S. international. … Loons captain Wil Trapp made his 250th MLS start Sunday. … Minnesota Aurora ran its winning streak to six games with a 2-0 win over Kaw Valley in front of announced crowd of 4,372 at TCO Stadium in Eagan on Sunday. The new amateur women’s soccer club (6-0-1) hosts final regular-season home games Friday and Sunday.

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