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Breaking down Robin Lod’s record-setting goals for Minnesota United

Lod broke a four-way club-record tie for most MLS regular-season goals in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at FC Dallas, with 22 total goals:

MLS: Minnesota United FC at FC Dallas
Minnesota United midfielder Robin Lod (17) controls the ball against FC Dallas forward Tsiki Ntsabeleng (16) in the first half Sunday, May 23, 2022, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Tim Heitman / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL — Odds in 2019 that Robin Lod would become Minnesota United’s leading scorer in MLS regular-season games would have been a mile long.

The Finnish attacking midfielder had arrived from Sporting Gijon in Spain’s second division that August and didn’t score a single goal in 582 league minutes his first season with the Loons. There was sticker shock toward his nearly $1 million salary.

But Lod has become the team’s most-consistent scorer over the past three seasons. The 29-year-old Finn lacks flash, but his fundamentals are refined, especially if he gets the ball on his favored left foot in the 18-yard box.

Lod broke a four-way club-record tie for most MLS regular-season goals in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at FC Dallas. He has 22 total goals: seven in 2020, nine in 2021 and already six this season.

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“He’s a quality player, quality man, great professional,” manager Adrian Heath said Sunday. “… He’s been a terrific pick up for us. I couldn’t thank him enough for what he has done for us all.”

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Heath defended Lod’s early struggles in 2019, which came on the heels after the Spanish season which ran from August 2018-May 2019. But Heath also seemed to do Lod a disservice by playing the left-footer on the left side of the attack, where it’s more difficult to cut inside and be goal dangerous.

Lod was later flipped to the right side as part of a three-man attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and has stepped in to a striker role both now and during the club’s run to the Western Conference final in 2020. Minnesota also has asked Lod to play central midfield sporadically.

Here’s a look at Lod’s key goals while wearing Minnesota’s black and blue colors:

Opening hope

Lod’s first goal for Minnesota came in a massive moment in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup final. Trailing 2-0 to start the second half, he made a near-post run to get on the end of Kevin Molino’s cross and his right-footed finish gave the Loons hope they could raise the first trophy of its MLS era.

The Loons couldn’t find a second goal and lost 2-1 to Atlanta United. While this goal doesn’t count for his MLS totals, it gave a reason to believe Lod could finish in front of net in future years.

Spark a run

In the first round of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, Lod slotted in a left-footed shot inside the post to stake the team to a 2-0 lead over Colorado Rapids. It’s his go-to shot.

While it was Lod’s only goal of the three-game playoff run, it put the momentum in the Loons’ direction.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Philadelphia Union
Minnesota United midfielder Robin Lod celebrates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Union in the first half Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.
Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports

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Winners

Minnesota infamously started 0-4 last season, but Lod built his team-high nine goals in some big moments to get them back in the playoffs.

Lod’s 94th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 win over FC Dallas in May; his 81st-minute finish led to a 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders in July, and his 85th-minute goal was instrumental in a 2-1 win over Portland Timbers a week later.

On Decision Day, Lod was lurking at the back post and roofed a shot on a corner kick that helped lead to a 3-3 draw with L.A. Galaxy and a spot in the playoffs for a third straight season.

Fastest

The Loons sliced open the Houston Dynamo with Lod’s lethal run and goal only 51 seconds into a 2-0 win last September. It stands as the quickest goal scored in the club’s MLS era.

Some flash

Lod has only one goal outside of the 18-yard box with MNUFC, and the majority of his tallies are left-footed finishes or doorstep tap-ins that are not in contention for goal of the week awards. But he did nutmeg former Loons defender Wyatt Omsberg before a goal in April.

What and where

Lod has scored 71 percent of his MNUFC goals with his left foot, 25 percent with his right foot and 4 percent with his head.

Exactly one-third (33 percent) of Lod’s goals have come inside the 6-yard box, with 63 percent elsewhere in the 18-yard box and 4 percent from long range.

He has scored 46 percent of his goals in open play, 29 percent on counter attacks and 25 percent on set pieces, including his record-breaker off a rebound from Emanuel Reynoso’s free kick.

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Bigger record

When counting goals in the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup Playoffs, Lod still has some work to do to reach No. 1 in Loons records.

Darwin Quintero scored six goals in the club’s run to the Open Cup final and won the national tournament’s golden boot for top scorer. But the player known as the Scientist did not score in the MLS Cup Playoffs. He leads MNUFC’s list with 27 total goals in all competitions.

Kevin Molino scored four times in the 2020 playoff run but didn’t get on the score sheet in the Open Cup, putting him second in all competitions with 25 goals.

Lod has one goal apiece in Open Cup and MLS Cup Playoffs, so he has climbed to 24 total, putting him four away from taking the overall mark.

Lod has five goals in his previous six games and leads the team with six overall this season. He is well on his way to putting separation between himself and the rest of Loons’ scorers.

Twenty club

Minnesota United’s 20-goal scorers across all competitions since 2017:
(Player: regular season + U.S. Open Cup + MLS Cup Playoffs = career total)

Darwin Quintero: 21 + 6 + 0 = 27
Kevin Molino: 21 + 0 + 4 = 25
Robin Lod: 22 + 1 + 1 = 24
Christian Ramirez: 21 + 0 + 0 = 21
Ethan Finlay: 19 + 1 + 0 = 20

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA UNITED FCSOCCER
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