Minnesota United’s roster doesn’t appear deep enough to withstand another major injury.
Mender Garcia provided an insurance goal in the 95th minute. The Colombian had not scored in MLS play since March 25.
The Loons (8-8-7, 31 points) won their first match in the restarted MLS season. New York (5-9-11, 26 points) has now one win in the last 16 MLS matches.
Hlongwane wasn’t the only concern. Star playmaker Emanuel Reynoso played through an ankle injury suffered this week and exited in the 68th minute.
Hlongwane was taken down in a hard challenge from NYCFC midfielder James Sands in the 33rd minute. Sands was issued a yellow card for the tackle from behind.
Hlongwane appeared to pass movement tests from head athletic trainer Donnie Fuller, but Hlongwane went down to ground within a few minutes.
Hlongwane, the Loons’ hottest goal-scorer, exited in the 38th minute, with Gregus coming on for his first game back with Loons after a trade with Nashville on Aug. 2.
Instead of bringing on a winger, manager Adrian Heath called on a central midfielder and it pushed Hassani Dotson to right wing. Heath did not call on more natural winger options — Sang Bin Jeong and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi on the bench.
Gregus provided a rare goal. The Slovakian scored one goal for MNUFC in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons and zero in 2021 before two scoreless stints with San Jose and Nashville.
The Loons struggled to threaten New York’s goal in the first half, with Hlongwane’s close-range shot put over the crossbar in the 18th minute.
Loons had calls go against them during Leagues Cup and it appeared another one was on the way late Sunday. Center back Micky Tapias did not appear to make contact on Julian Fernandez on an initial call for a penalty kick. But review waived off the PK.
MNUFC mid Jan Gregus has matched his season-high goal-scoring output in a Loons shirt.
2019 — 1 goal in 2,677 minutes|
2020 — 1 in 1,597
2021 — 0 in 772
2023 — 1 in 51