Franco Fragapane scored early and goalkeeper Tyler Miller stopped eight shots as visiting Minnesota United FC held on for a 1-0 win over Austin FC on Saturday in a key late-season Western Conference match.
The Loons (11-10-8, 41 points) snapped a three-game winless streak, winning for the first time since beating Houston at home on Sept. 25, and captured the season series from expansion Austin. The Loons won the first-ever match in central Texas between the two teams.
Minnesota United will stay above the playoff line in the West with just five matches to play in the regular season.
Fragapane got the Loons on the board in the 16th minute, taking a crossing pass from Hassani Dotson, dribbling once to steady the ball before booting a right-footed shot from close range to the bottom right corner past Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
The scoring play started with a blistering shot from just outside the box by Emanuel Reynoso that was saved by Stuver. But the rebound ended up at the feet of Dotson, who had the deft pass and garnered the assist.
Miller made three saves in a contentious first half, two on the same Austin possession when he had to react to stop shots by Cecilio Dominguez and Moussa Djitte. He had four saves after halftime and produced his 11th shutout of the season and the 31st in his six-year MLS career.
Austin FC (7-18-4, 25 points) dominated the game’s statistics, forging large advantages in almost every category, including possession percentage, shots, shots on goal, total passes, passing accuracy, corner kicks and duels won.
But Minnesota put together one great play, and that was enough to secure the win.
Austin had scored in eight straight home matches and has tallied twice in six of those games but was shutout at home for the sixth time this season. Austin will remain in the cellar of the West standings.
–Field Level Media