Two late goals lift Loons over Houston 2-1

·3 min read

A day after Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath warned his team about "complacency," the Loons scored two late goals to beat 13th-place Houston 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Allianz Field.

Houston attacker Fafa Picault's own goal off a dangerous Emanuel Reynoso free kick tied the score in the 79th minute after he swung his legs in an attempt to clear the ball but re-directed it past his goalkeeper Steve Clark instead.

Five minutes later, Loons striker Luis Amarilla scored the winning goal with a powerful right-foot volley off right back Alan Benitez's cross into the 18-yard box.

Until then, Amarilla had more than his share of second-half chances, missing just wide on a bicycle-kick attempt from inside that 18-yard box.

Clark smothered Amarilla's missed short-range shot that Amarilla just didn't get enough on and then Amarilla appeared to score in the 69th minute, but was ruled clearly off-side.

The victory moved the Loons into the Western Conference's 3rd place for the moment and made them 8-0-2 in their last 10 games.

The Loons had the better of the play and scoring chances throughout the first half, but Houston had the halftime lead after attacker Corey Baird's counterattack goal in stoppage time.

He took defender Griffin Dorsey's long, curling cross into the 18-yard box and chipped a shot over Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair just before defender Alan Benitez could close in on him.

It was Baird's first MLS goal this season in 10th start and 16th appearance this season. He hadn't scored for Houston since he was acquired from Los Angeles F.C. for $750,000 in general-allocation money on July 30.

The Loons — Amarilla especially — had their scoring chances in the second half.

The Loons started the game without injured starting left back Kemar Lawrence for the second consecutive game. They then lost starting center back Bakaye Dibassy to a leg injury in the seventh minute and was done for the afternoon, replaced by Brent Kallman instead.

It was Kallman's 100th appearance with his hometown team, and his 13th this season.Starting central midfielder Kervin Arriaga banged heads in pursuit of a corner kick curled into the 6-yard box in the 24th minute. He was helped and left the game briefly, but returned and played on.

Loons coach Adrian Heath modified his formation and lineup at halftime, sending veteran defensive midfielder Wil Trapp in, taking Bongokuhle Hlongwane out and moving Robin Lod to Hlongwane's attacking spot while playing Trapp and Arriaga together in the central midfield. In the 68th minute, newcomer Mender Garcia subbed into the game for Arriaga.

Lawrence missed his second consecutive game because of a bothersome knee. Versatile fullback DJ Taylor moved from where he often has played on the right side this season to the left side again.

Lawrence trained some with the team on Friday in Blaine and afterward Heath said he'd be available to play "unless there's any reaction to what he has done today."

Injured Houston star Hector Herrera didn't play for the first time since he arrived in July and former Loons star Darwin Quintero started as a substitute before he entered the game in the 84th minute with his team trailing 2-1.