Minnesota United ends three-game winless lull with 1-0 win at Austin

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Oct. 17—Minnesota United needed a palate cleanser after the bitter taste left from the 3-1 loss to Colorado last weekend, and Saturday's 1-0 win over Austin was like a slice of pickled ginger before eating sushi.

There weren't very many calories to full up on as the Loons rode Franco Fragapane's early goal at Q2 Stadium. But it ended MNUFC's three-game winless streak and was only their third win in 15 road games this season.

"Everybody did their job, which I was really pleased about," manager Adrian Heath said.

Austin (7-18-4) might be in last place but at home, their form has been much better at their boisterous new stadium, and Minnesota (11-10-8) benefited from Verde putting 11 shots off target.

Tyler Miller made eight saves for his 11th clean sheet, a personal best in a season, and it tied the MNUFC record set in 2019, all by Vito Mannone.

"We are at our best when we ... are not nice to play against," Heath said. "That is one of the things that coaches say to me over the last couple of years that we are not an easy team to play against. I thought we were a little bit like that (Saturday) evening."

After giving up three goals apiece in two of the last three games, Miller said they responded. "There was a ton of fire," he said. "A ton of guys sacrificing their bodies and putting everything on the line to ensure that we made it as difficult as possible for them."

Minnesota was able to put its top foursome of attackers — Adrien Hunou, Franco Fragapane, Emanuel Reynoso and Robin Lod — in the starting XI for the first time since July 18. That's a span of 15 games.

In the 16th minute, Fragapane poked in a goal off a cross from Hassani Dotson, and Minnesota improved to 8-2-1 when scoring first this season.

The Loons have had that group together for less than 140 minutes this season due to injuries, international duty, rest and coaching decisions. While they didn't gorge themselves on goals, they showed some appetite, especially early.

MNUFC was without Wil Trapp in Texas due to "family reasons," and he should be back for their midweek game versus Philadelphia at Allianz Field on Wednesday. It meant Hassani Dotson remained next to Ozzie Alonso in midfiel. They added Joseph Rosales in midfield to clog things up in the second half.

It was a big spot for a new, young player. "For a 20-year-old kid, we think he's got a really bright future," Heath said. "The kid has got a good soccer brain. He gets the game. We are really pleased with him. We think we got a player for sure."

This win starts a stretch of five games in 16 days for the club. Miller said taking care of their bodies will be key, including proper nutrition. But that also included some celebratory pizza in Austin before their late-night flight back to Minnesota, and Miller said he will keep up his tradition of bringing donuts for the team when they get back together in Blaine. It's a a tradition he has started after every donut, err, shutout this season.

"That is for the mind, it's not really for the body; it's for the mind," Miller said of donuts. "It gets the guys happy, it gets them excited, well (Michael Boxall) at least. He was very exited when we got to the locker room for donuts."

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