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Ugly upset: Minnesota United loses to third-tier Union Omaha in U.S. Open Cup

MLS: US Open Cup-Union Omaha at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United midfielder Adrien Hunou and Union Omaha defender Gabriel Claudio fight for the ball on Wednesday during the first half at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL — When Minnesota United scored an easy sixth-minute goal against Union Omaha on Wednesday, it looked like the top-flight MLS side would make quick work of the third-tier USL outfit in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 on Wednesday at Allianz Field.

It had shades of when the Loons trounced New Mexico United 6-1 in the 2019 quarterfinals of the national tournament.

Omaha scored an equalizing goal just before halftime and took the lead just after the break and pulled off a massive 2-1 upset.

This is clearly in contention for Minnesota’s worst loss in club history.

MLS: US Open Cup-Union Omaha at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United midfielder Oniel Fisher and Union Omaha defender Gabriel Claudio battle for the ball on Wednesday during the first half at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports

Loons manager Adrian Heath elected to start a mix of starters and backups, with one eye on a big MLS home match against New York City on Saturday. Resting star Emanuel Reynoso and leading scorer Robin Lod’s ailing groin, Heath still started two Designated Players in Luis Amarilla and Adrien Hunou.
Hunou scored, but Amarilla’s drought without a goal reached nine games played. Amarilla and others couldn’t capitalize on first half-scoring chances and it came back to bite.

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Union Omaha, the defending USL League One champion, were the first third-tier side to upset MLS foe when they took down Chicago Fire in penalty kicks in the third round on April 19.

Omaha will play on the road against either Houston Dynamo/Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals on June 21-22.

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“I’m focused every day. I work hard and I do my best every day and push myself, so (I) keep going with my teammates," Hunou said.

The Round of 16 had 13 MLS sides, two from the second division USL Championship and one, Omaha, in the third tier USL League One.

Minnesota broke down Omaha’s defense in the sixth minute with a nifty combo of Kervin Arriaga to Franco Fragapane feeding Hunou for a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.

The Loons gave up the lead in first-half stoppage time. A long ball from goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu was headed on by John Scearce and Hugo Kemetani got behind Minnesota’s back line and beat goalkeeper Eric Dick near post.

Captain Michael Boxall made an appeal for Kemetani being offside, but to no avail.

Boxall’s failed header clearance in the 51st minute went backward and straight to Joseph Brito, who roofed the shot past Dick in the 51st minute.

Arriaga injured his face, with blood coming from his nose from a collision with Omaha’s Noe Meza in the 27th minute. He exited with fellow Honduran Joseph Rosales subbing in.

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The Loons had a very short bench with only four field players that went even thinner with a first-half sub. Niko Hansen, Joseph Rosales and homegrown players Aziel Jackson, Devin Padelford.

With an eye on the MLS game against New York City on Saturday, Heath said he wouldn’t risk any player and that’s why leading scorer Robin Lod was out with a groin injury. But star Emanuel Reynoso, captain Wil Trapp, key center back Bakaye Dibassy and left back Kemar Lawrence were also left off without known injuries.

BRIEFLY

Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was called into the Canadian men’s national team on Wednesday for a friendly against Iran (June 5) and CONCACAF Nations League matches versus Curacao (June 9) and Honduras (June 13). … Arriaga is expected to be called up for Honduras. He and Michael Boxall (New Zealand) might leave for national team duties before Saturday’s MLS game against New York City because they are suspended from that match due to yellow-card accumulation. … Robin Lod will be headed to Finland national team after Saturday. … MNUFC2 midfielder Molik Khan, 18, will join Trinidad and Tobago’s national team.

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