Frank Lampard chose to change things about a little and went with a starting XI of Pickford; Patterson, Keane, Tarkowski, Mykolenko; Iwobi, Davies, Doucoure; Gray, Calvert-Lewin, Gordon.
The Blues started reasonably well, moving the ball around decently as Minnesota sat back. The midfield with Tom Davies as the DM was actually looking competent until Adrian Heath’s side worked them out with probing passes that continued to find gaps in front of the fullbacks.
The next few minutes saw some end-to-end action as the hosts gave as good as they got, but a crucial error from Davies started the downfall of the Blues. Going out wide to block a cross he left his hand dangling and made connection with the ball. The Loons’ star Emmanuel Reynoso made no mistake from the spot, sending Jordan Pickford the wrong way.
It’s the … for me— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) July 21, 2022
Rey put the Loons up 1-0 with a PK. pic.twitter.com/6c1TqhWojv
Everton continued to push forward but were punished for their lackadaisical approach in the opponent’s box as Minnesota countered and Lawrence’s low cross was inadvertently bundled into his own goal by.. (guess who).. Michael Keane. As an Evertonian it just felt like we’ve seen that goal so many times before.
now this, this is the ultimate OPE pic.twitter.com/eOUYQOsL7C— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) July 21, 2022
Minutes later after Demarai Gray sliced a shot just over it was 3-0 to the hosts, with Hlongwane’s shot deflecting off Mykolenko, Pickford’s despairing glove could only parry it and the ball fell perfectly for Amarilla who easily beat Tarkowski on the goal-line.
better late than never…— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) July 21, 2022
goal #3 for ya pic.twitter.com/rMKxf27akj
Hlongwane was easily the Loons best player in the first half, with Mykolenko struggling to handle him with little cover in front of him from the midfield. You could say Inchy’s side were lucky to be ahead by three, but were certainly good value for the lead with their endeavour.
Lampard kept Gordon and Gray on, opting to change the other nine with Crellin, Nkounkou, Holgate, Mina, Godfrey, Warrington, Gbamin, Dele, and Rondon coming on.
Just like on Saturday there was an immediate improvement in the Blues’ cohesion with the ball, but they continued to be wasteful when the chances were presented to them. Neither side was treating this like a friendly as tackles flew in from all directions. Lewis Warrington was looking good again just like against Arsenal but looked to have tweaked something, coming off soon after.
Mason Holgate’s slashing run down the right and subsequent cross found Dele all alone a couple of yards from the goal, which he somehow contrived to miss.
It's pre-season, but Dele, what is this?pic.twitter.com/TCbgWjKwSx— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) July 21, 2022
The Loons were able to capitalize immediately after that, with a good passing sequence finding Benitez wide open on the right, and Danladi rushed across Yerry Mina to get his knee to the low cross in which left Billy Crellin with no chance.
The Blues continued to look ill at ease as Minnesota kept pushing looking for more goals with both Ben Godfrey and Neils Nkounkou going in the book. The final whistle came as a relief for Lampard, with Heath’s new team definitely the better side. Evertonians could argue they were unlucky with some of the goals, but in the end who dares wins, and Minnesota dared to play.
First order of business would have to be getting in some transfers though, as the attack continues to look toothless, and the midfield continues to be devoid of creativity and unable to stop any opponents either.
We could still argue this is just another pre-season game, but it also means the Blues are now ninety minutes closer to the beginning of the new season with a lot of questions still to be answered, and lots more work to do.