Minnesota United earned its first MLS regular-season home win this season — and just its third at home overall all season — with Wednesday night’s 3-0 victory over Colorado at Allianz Field.
The Loons did so after hurting star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso scored twice in the game’s first 28 minutes and recently acquired striker and designated player Teemu Pukki scored his first goal at Allianz Field in the 43rd.
It was Pukki’s first goal in eight games since he scored at Houston in his MLS debut July 12.
The Loons played their second consecutive game without leading goal scorer Bongokuhle Hlongwane, out with a banged-up knee.
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair recorded the clean sheet, keeping it with a 74th-minute falling save that protected the near post.
The Loons jumped three spots in the MLS Western Conference standings, moving above the playoff line, from under it in 10th place to seventh place.
Until Wednesday, the Loons were 2-2-7 at home and 6-6-1 on the road. By the time the Loons took a 3-0 lead to halftime, Reynoso already had scored his brace and Pukki ended his scoring drought.
His two goals give him 27 across all competitions, which ties him with Darwin Quintero for the club’s all-time lead. Kevin Molino had 26.
Reynoso has played on a swollen ankle recently and after Tuesday’s training, Loons coach Adrian Heath said he would give both Reynoso and Hlongwane overnight to see how each felt Wednesday. Reynoso apparently felt well enough.
He scored his first goal in the 18th minute after he drew a penalty just inside the 18-yard box near the goal line. Referee Marcos DeOliveira award the penalty kick, on which Reynoso patiently waited on his approach before shoveling a shot to his left while Rapids keeper Marko Ilic guessed the wrong way.
Reynoso scored his brace in the 28th minute on a rebound goal created by teammate Hassani Dotson and newcomer Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who got his first Loons start Wednesday.
Illic stopped Tajouri-Shradi’s long strike on the run with a two-handed save but couldn’t contain the rebound. It went out to the left side, where Reynoso was positioned in front of an open goal.
Tajouri-Shradi helped created the second goal as well, this one getting him an assist. His perfect pass ahead went between five defenders, and Pukki tucked it into the net with a composed touch from near the penalty mark.
It came just before halftime, in the 43rd minute.
The Loons played without Hlongwane for the second consecutive game after he banged his knee in the first half of a 2-0 victory at New York City FC 10 days before.
This time, Heath put Tajouri-Shradi into Hlongwane’s right-side attacking spot that Hassani Dotson had played since Hlongwane was injured.
Dotson moved to the left, with Reynoso in the middle. Joseph Rosales dropped back from left-side attacker into the left-back position. DJ Taylor played right back.
Tajouri-Shradi entered Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Seattle in the 64th minute for starting left back Ethan Bristow, and Heath praised his performance playing farther up the field.
“I thought he was good,” Heath said after after Tuesday’s training. “We know he’s really good getting into them little pockets of space behind their midfield. he’s a good footballer. We need to keep him fit between now and the end of the season because he certainly can contribute an awful lot for us.”
Reynoso played on despite a swollen ankle that has bothered him recently.
“It’s not 100 percent,” Heath said after Tuesday’s training.
After Wednesday’s game, the Loons travel west Thursday and play Saturday night at San Jose.