Home FOOTBALL Allianz Field survives rapid transition from football to futbol

Allianz Field survives rapid transition from football to futbol

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Allianz Field’s grounds crew worked overnight Saturday, watering, tamping, manicuring and loving grass that had been laid only three weeks ago into game condition after St. John’s and St. Thomas played a college football game on it that afternoon.

By game time Sunday, it was green and firmer than it had been during the season and play proceeded into halftime without chunks coming up as they had throughout the regular season because of a drainage issue that damaged the grass’ roots.

Before the game, Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright used the word “remarkable” to describe how the newly laid grass held up after the Johnnies-Tommies game was played on it in dry and sunny conditions.

He also call stadium head groundskeeper Ryan Moy — an assistant on Hazeltine National Golf Club’s crew when the Ryder Cup was there in 2016 — a “rock star” for getting the field in shape in such short order.

Quintero subs

Loons coach Adrian Heath adjusted his first 11 Sunday by designating star Darwin Quintero a substitute after Quintero had been ill during the week leading to Sunday’s game with L.A. Galaxy. He entered the game for Ethan Finlay in the 60th minute.

Instead, Heath started Finlay, Angelo Rodriguez, Kevin Molino and Robin Lod and made Mason Toye, Hassani Dotson and Abu Danladi subs as well.

The team’s leading goal scorer with 10 and its highest-paid player, Quintero now has not started either the U.S. Open Cup final the United played at Atlanta in August nor Sunday’s playoff debut.

United has an option to renew Quintero’s contract after this season.

Masked man

Recently named 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara started at his center-back spot wearing a protective facial mask that he wore in training last week.

Heath had said Opara had taken a hit to the nose and might need surgery on his nasal area at season’s end.

Living legend

United striker Toye was born mere months before Galaxy superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic played his first pro game for Malmo back home in Sweden. Toye has scored six goals in his pro career, Ibrahimovic 542.

“He is an icon,” Toye said. “I grew up watching him play for Barcelona, Inter Milan, the list goes on. He’s somebody I looked up to, but once the whistle blows, he’s just another guy, just another opponent.”

Stay informed

Sunday’s game was the nightcap to a weekend of six MLS first-round playoff games. United rookie midfielder Dotson, his teammates and his coaches watched some or most of the other five games leading to theirs.

“Of course,” Dotson said. “I have a bunch of friends all over the league and also to scout for the next rounds.”

Back from camp

Toye scored another goal while away with the U.S. Under-23 national team during the two-week break between the regular season and playoffs. He scored shortly after coming on in the 57th minute of a 6-1 victory over El Salvador that ended a week’s camp in Miami.

“Very hot,” he said about the camp. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but I got a lot of good learning experience. I enjoyed myself and capped it off with a goal.”

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