ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United expressed faith they could go on a long run in the MLS Cup Playoffs this year. They competed the first step Sunday, and it was an historic hurdle.
With a 3-0 win over Colorado Rapids, the Loons notched their first playoff victory and avenged a loss in this exact spot, a first-round home defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy last fall.
Fourth-seed Minnesota advances to face top-seeded Sporting Kansas City, which outlasted No. 8 San Jose in a penalty-kick shootout earlier Sunday afternoon. The Western Conference semifinal match will be Dec. 1 or 2.
After Kevin Molino’s goal gave the Loons a first-half lead, fifth-seed Colorado had two scoring chances early in the second half, but Bakaye Dibassy and Jan Gregus’ defensive efforts kept the Rapids scoreless.
Then Robin Lod then doubled the lead with a goal in the 54th minute. Molino tapped his second to put the game away in the 79th.
With Emanuel Reynoso assisting on all three goals, the attacking trio continued their chemistry from the 3-0 win over FC Dallas in the regular-season finale.
The Loons’ confidence stems from an unbeaten streak that has reached nine games, while the Rapids had their three-game winning streak snapped.
After last year’s first-round home playoff loss to the Galaxy, Loons manager Adrian Heath emphasized the need for a fast start Sunday. But it didn’t happen at the starting whistle. Colorado had more control early, with Jonathan Lewis forcing Dayne St. Clair into a kick save in the fourth minute.
The Loons soon started to assert themselves as Robin Lod had a pair of non-threatening shots straight at William Yarborough about 10 minutes later.
Minnesota got its breakthrough in the 22nd minute. Emanuel Reynoso successfully dribbled in space, with Molino capitalizing with a shot tucked past Yarborough.
Minnesota is 10-0-3 when scoring first in 2020.
The Loons should have doubled the lead 10 minutes later.
Molino forced a turnover on Colorado’s Younes Namli and started a breakaway. Molino passed off Lod, who set Emanuel Reynoso up with a great chance. The Argentine got it on his his favored left foot, and despite plenty of space and angles to work, his shot hit square off the right post.