Loons keep same starting 11 for first time this season

·3 min read

Minnesota United started the same lineup Sunday at FC Dallas as it did for Wednesday's 1-1 home draw with the LA Galaxy.

It was the first time the Loons have started the same 11 this season. Until then, they started a different lineup in each of their first 12 games.

The Loons had Robin Lod up top with Franco Fragapane on the left and Bongokuhle Hlongwane on the right between playmaker Emanuel Reynoso.

Lod's goal in the 20th minute set a record for most goals with the team, with 22. That surpassed Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino and Darwin Quintero.

Defender DJ Taylor started his second consecutive game and followed his first MLS assist Wednesday with his first MLS goal, giving the Loons a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute.

He did so starting at the right-back position and pushing the ball far down the right wing while Romain Metanire remains out nearly all season so far.

"For a guy like me who hasn't been starting, it feels good to get a reward for your work," Taylor said Friday. "I reached this goal, now I'll start a new one. Can I start this next game against Dallas and get another assist or a goal?

"I think there's nothing that can hold me back. I don't put any limitations on myself. My goal is get at least an assist or a goal each game. That's the plan."

Still looking

Thirteen games into his MLS career, forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane still awaits scoring his first career goal after missing one scoring chance after another.

When it finally comes, Loons coach Adrian Heath expects many more to quickly follow.

"He's really frustrated because he has had numerous opportunities the last two or three weeks, but that will come," Heath said. "More importantly, he's getting in the right spots, making the right runs. Eventually it will come and hopefully the first one will give him some confidence and he can go from there."

Acquired from his South African premier division team in January, Hlongwane started the fifth of 13 games he has played this season Sunday, subbing out in the 67th minute. His two assists came in a April 23 victory 3-0 over Chicago.

"He's going to break through," Taylor said. "You can tell in his face he really wants it bad. He keeps getting one chance a game, so I'm sure he's waiting for the man above to bless him."

Boxall, Arriaga booked

Michael Boxall and Kervin Arriaga will both be suspended for Saturday's home game against New York City FC for yellow card accumulations. They received one each back-to-back midway through Sunday's first half.

Arriaga received his yellow card for excessive complaining.

Metanire's road back

Metanire missed his 12th of 13 games this season, but Heath said he remains hopeful he could play Saturday. If not, then certainly after a FIFA schedule break after that.

"He's training really hard," Heath said. "Now we have to get a good week, 10 days into him training with the team. When that's done, we'll assess when he's ready."

Veteran midfielder Niko Hansen (thigh) and forward Justin McMaster (shoulder) were out injured Sunday. Hassani Dotson and Patrick Weah are both out for the season following knee surgeries.

Reserve goalkeeper Eric Dick replaced backup Tyler Miller on the bench after Miller injured something around his rib cage. "We'll know tomorrow," Heath said.

Play on, Everton

Everton fans stormed their field Thursday night after their team kept its English Premier League status by overcoming a 2-0 deficit against Crystal Palace and winning 3-2. Only five other teams have competed in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992.

"Everyone knows what the club means to me," said Heath, who starred there in the 1980s. "Best thing that ever happened in my football life was playing there. For them to stay up was a huge relief with everybody connected to the club."