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New Minnesota United starting goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh’s coach and teammates praise his shot-stopping ability, but neither of the two goals he allowed in Friday’s team debut were a mighty blast clutched or turned away.

Each was an opportunistic chance that either bounced or was inadvertently redirected into an open goal during a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Loons’ first game in Allianz Field since October.

The first goal came in the game’s 12th minute, on a ball untouched by three converging players, including Ranjitsingh. The second was the eventual winner, a go-ahead own goal in the 55th minute when defender Michael Boxall slid in an attempt to clear a ball rolling in front of the goal and put it into his own net instead.

Loons coach Adrian Heath called both goals “poor” because of the way his team defended — or didn’t — each, and not all the goalkeeper’s fault.

Ranjitsingh, acquired last fall in the MLS waiver draft, considered his debut a “really frustrating night” but a performance for which he felt fully prepared.

He had known for some time that starting keeper Tyler Miller’s hip hurt him, so it was no surprise he got the call to play Friday when Miller and team officials decided he’d have surgery early Wednesday morning.

Born in Ontario and educated at Mercer University in Georgia, Ranjitsingh, 27, won USL Championship titles with Louisville City in 2017 and 2018 and played two games with Orlando City last season.

“I knew this game would be coming and that I would be playing in it,” he said. “So it has been a lot … of build-up towards it. Finally, I got to play in it. The result didn’t go our way, but I’m happy I was able to get my 90 minutes in. I feel more comfortable on the pitch.”

His first goal allowed came when Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda’s cross was just out of the reach of hard-running teammate Roger Espinoza, defending Hassani Dotson and Ranjitsingh’s outstretched arm and bounded just inside the far post.

“That’s one of them things when people look at as though they’re going to go for the ball and nobody touches it,” Heath said, “and it ends up bobbling in on the back post.”

Heath criticized his team for allowing Kinda space to create from the left wing, saying the goal “looked soft” from where he stood. He also noted his team didn’t defend Sporting Kansas City’s counterattack after Kevin Molino’s giveaway pass was intercepted at midfield in that 55th minute.

Sporting KC attacker Johnny Russell rolled the ball across an open goal mouth after a left-side run, and Boxall’s slide put the ball in the goal instead of sweeping it away. Ranjitsingh and Boxall huddled up after that goal.

“I have full confidence in Boxy,” Ranjitsingh said. “He knows it. I can’t fault him for that. … No wrong to him.”

Ranjitsingh said he’ll learn from Friday’s loss and move forward in a starting position for which he is ready after a “special time” in Louisville and an MLS introduction in Orlando.

“I’m getting my chance,” he said. “I’ve been preparing for a long time and I’ve been training well. … I’ve always viewed myself as a No. 1. I respect the goalkeeper union. We all want to play, and I think that’s good. … I have full confidence in my abilities, and my teammates and staff do as well. So I just have to take this opportunity and run with it.”


SOURCE: Star Tribune