ST. PAUL -- The U.S. Open Cup was just what Minnesota United needed.
A trio of Loons attackers ended scoring droughts, and United distanced itself from a three-game MLS losing streak with a 4-1 win Wednesday, June 12, over Sporting Kansas City in the fourth round of the national tournament.
In the first half at Allianz Field, Angelo Rodriguez scored his first goal since April 28. In the second, Ethan Finlay put in his first since May 18.
Then in the biggest slump bust, Darwin Quintero notched his first goal since April 19. He then added a second, with an array of celebrations to make up for lost time.
Both Minnesota and Kansas City played without handfuls of regulars — due to injuries and national team duties — but for the Loons’ long-suffering attackers, they will pocket goals any way they come.
The Loons now advance to the U.S. Open Cup round of 16 for a second straight season. Their opponent will be determined in a redraw on Thursday morning. If Minnesota hosts, the earliest date would be June 20 to work around the Gold Cup doubleheader at Allianz Field on June 18.
Wednesdays victory was Minnesota’s first in Open Cup play against Kansas City, stemming off three defeats in 2017, ’15 and ’14.
After a seven-game scoring drought in MLS, Rodriguez curtailed it early Wednesday. In the third minute, he received a Quintero pass and put a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas.
In the 46th minute, Finlay’s pace set up an open finish past Zendejas. Quintero’s goals came in the 55th and 67th.
Four Loons were away on national-team duty: starting midfielder Jan Gregus (Slovakia), starting right back Romain Metanire (Madagascar) and key midfielders Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago) and Rasmus Schuller (Finland). Four others were injured: Ozzie Alonso (quad); Ike Opara (soreness); Abu Danladi (hamstring) and Brent Kallman (leg).
Sporting was without its two leading scorers due to international duty: Kristin Nemeth (Hungary) and Johnny Russell (Scotland), starting center back Botond Barath (Hungary) and a backup fullback Nicolas Hasler (Liechtenstein). Roger Espinoza and Matt Besler were among the injured.
With the U.S. men’s national team training in Blaine ahead of next Tuesday’s first game in the Concacaf Gold Cup, head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff watched Wednesday’s game in St. Paul. … Wednesday announced attendance was 7,211, the smallest crowd in nine matches at Allianz Field. All seven MLS games have been sellouts of more than 19,600.