sports 3 days ago

United remains winless on the road after 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake

Pioneer Press — Andy Greder Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

June 18--Minnesota United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth stacked up a bevy of brilliant saves to keep the Loons in contention against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Playing out a Salt Lake corner kick in the 84th minute, Shuttleworth went to the ground on an initial save, and Yura Movsisyan capitalized to provide the one-goal difference in United's 1-0 loss in a Major League Soccer game.

Shuttleworth, who kept Minnesota in the game throughout the evening, apologized to the team afterward. "If you put in a good performance and do something like that, it's pretty gutting," he said.

Despite United coach Adrian Heath prioritizing Saturday's game over Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup game by saving most of the regular players for the weekend, Minnesota (4-9-2) remains winless in eight road games as an expansion franchise.

Coupled with a lost offensive attack, the Loons are now scoreless in their past 214 minutes of MLS play. Including the 4-0 Open Cup defeat to Kansas City, Minnesota hasn't scored in 304 total minutes.

"When I look back at the 90 minutes (Saturday), I don't think our sort of forward play, our impact players, if you like, have done enough to trouble them most of the evening," Heath said.

Entering Saturday, Salt Lake and Minnesota were the worst two teams in MLS in goals allowed this season. Salt Lake had allowed 35, with Minnesota at 33. But they were scoreless in the first half, mainly due to Shuttleworth's big saves.

Shuttleworth, an increasingly key player for Minnesota, had eight total saves, four in each half, including a diving stop of Luis Silva's strike from 16 yards out in the 23rd minute. He then denied Kyle Beckerman's right footed shot in the 34th. In the second half, he came out to cut off Joao Plata's run in the 73rd and stonewalled Luke Mulholland's long-distance shot in the 77th.

"Incredible Hulk with oven mitts," Real Salt Lake's TV color commentator Brian Dunseth described Shuttleworth during the first half of the online broadcast.

Added Heath, "The timing of his saves, really to come out to people's feet to little through balls, I thought was outstanding and once again showed his bravery on a few occasions. It wasn't enough protection in front of him this evening."

Heath's priorities toward Saturday were centered on securing three points on the road against a struggling side that had lost seven of its previous nine games. After an MLS-record-worst 5-0 halftime deficit in a 6-2 defeat to FC Dallas on June 3, Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel called out some players who "weren't leaving everything on the field."

Real Salt Lake responded in its next MLS game on Saturday, outshooting the Loons 29-5, including 9-1 in shots on goal.

"They've had a couple of bad results themselves, and we knew they would come out sharp and firing," Heath said.

Including Minnesota's shutout defeat to Sporting Kansas City on June 3, Minnesota has now been held off the score sheet since Christian Ramirez's second-half goal against Orlando on May 27.

The Loons were without attacker Johan Venegas, as well as fullback Marc Burch, due to late scratches on Saturday, leaving them with a five-man bench instead of the regular seven options.

"They both decided that they weren't ready to go," Heath said.

United will need to regroup quickly with Wednesday's match against Portland at TCF Bank Stadium. "We have to be better," Heath said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves."

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