Minnesota United edge Toluca in penalty kicks to advance in Leagues Cup

No Minnesota United lead seems safe.

The Loons were riding high Tuesday, up 2-0 on Toluca in a Leagues Cup round of 16 match.

Then MNUFC broke down and Toluca, the tournament’s top-scoring team through the round of 32, broke through in the 66th minute.  Dealing with steady pressure from Toluca, the Loons failed to clear the ball on a handful of occasions, and Valber Huerta scored in the 66th minute.

The Loons were backed up again when Hassani Dotson was called for a penalty for contact high on a Toluca player. Goalkeeper Tiago Volpi beat Dayne St. Clair to make it 2-2 in the 76th minute.

Ten-man United survived the final 17 minutes of regulation and six minutes of stoppage time, but MNUFC topped Toluca 4-2 in penalty kicks.

St. Clair saved Valber Huerta’s shot, and Toluca had another shot go off the post.

Emanuel Reynoso, Michael Boxall, Wil Trapp and Sang Bin Jeong made their penalty kicks. Trapp and Jeong make up for recent misses in Loons shirts.

MNUFC will play either Club America or Nashville in the quarterfinals on Saturday. That match went to penalties, too.

Apple TV commentator Cal Williams said referee Victor Rivas was looking at the same images show on the broadcast. Those replays were zoomed out and/or behind the net and it seemed difficult for it to meet the necessary standard of “clear and obvious.”

Before the turnaround, an argument could have been made that Lionel Messi is stealing some of Reynoso and Bongi Hlongwane’s headlines.

Messi has been on the MLSsoccer.com home page seemingly every day since the world’s best player decided to join Inter Miami in June.

But up north in often-overlooked Minnesota, Reynoso and Hlongwane are making their own waves in Leagues Cup.

Reynoso contributed two assists and Hlongwane tied Messi for the Leagues Cup Golden Boot race.

Once Hlongwane scored, Allianz Field’s public-address announcer Tony DeLorenzo deviated from his regular goal call to point out Hlongwane’s company in the tournament’s leading-scorer list. Each have scored seven in four matches.

Fill-in left back Joseph Rosales showed his attacking chops when he connected on a volley with Reynoso’s pass over the Toluca defense in the 13th minute.

Reynoso’s back-heel pass in the 32nd minute found Franco Fragapane, who laid it off to Hlongwane at the back post.

Toluca’s best scoring chance of the first half came when Rosales was beat down the left flank, but St. Clair’s chest made the save.

Loons manger Adrian Heath made one change to the starting XI from the shootout win over Columbus on Friday, with D.J. Taylor returned after needing stitches to his face from a kick to the face from former Loon Kei Kamara in the loss to Chicago during the tournament’s group stage.

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