Everton were beaten 4-0 by Minnesota United in the final game of their US tour as boss Frank Lampard gave playing time to 23 members of his Blues squad.
Adrian Heath’s Minnesota – who had won four of their last five league games – are at the heart of their MLS campaign and their extra sharpness was evident as they scored three times in the first half.
Everton were playing their second pre-season game of the summer and Lampard’s players will no doubt enjoy a few minutes under their belt at Allianz Field as they head into a Premier League opener against Chelsea at Goodison Park on August 6.
The Blues will return to friendly action in Blackpool on Sunday, before hosting Dynamo Kyiv in the UK’s first ‘Match For Peace’ on Friday July 29.
Minnesota’s clash was played at a brisk pace from the start and an excellent move from Everton three minutes later almost resulted in the game’s first goal.
After good work from Alex Iwobi, the ball was finally placed in the path of Anthony Gordon on the right flank. He fired in a terrific cross that was inches away from finding Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the middle and then Iwobi at the back post as the Nigerian continued his run into the box.
Calvert-Lewin had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring in the quarter-hour after benefiting from superb pressing from Abdoulaye Doucoure to recover a loose ball at the edge of the area. He shot on goal but his effort was just too close to Minnesota goaltender Dayne St. Clair, who made a comfortable save.
The chances came and went fast, and the home side soon had a golden opportunity to move forward. Emanuel Reynoso’s dangerous cross hit Tom Davies’ hand in the penalty area – when there appeared to be no intention on the part of the Everton player – the referee pointed the spot. Reynoso stepped up and coolly headed home from 12 yards out.
Everton tried to produce an instant response and a wonderful slick ball from James Tarkowski wiped out the entire home side back line and looked to have put Gordon on goal – the striker was unable to take the pass, however. in his stride, and keeper St. Claire collects.
Everton were running all the way at this stage, but it was Minnesota who would double their advantage. Kemar Lawrence drilled a devilish low cross into the Everton penalty area, Michael Keane tried to cut it but inadvertently deflected into his own goal.
Demarai Gray almost halved the deficit when his sizzling drive from 25 yards whistled fractions past the post but the home side scored again when Luis Amarilla came close after Pickford superbly saved from Bongokuhle Hlongwane.
Both teams made wholesale changes at halftime – only Gray and Gordon stayed for Everton while Minnesota swapped their entire starting XI.
Everton started the second half at breakneck speed, with Gordon seeing a superbly blocked shot on goal and substitute Salomon Rondon unable to make the required connection when he presented himself with a shot chance on the edge of the box.
The game was played almost exclusively in Minnesota’s half, but the home side threatened again when Justin McMaster headed for the crossbar after a corner kick.
Gray closed in on the Toffees again with a deflected effort, but Everton were unable to maintain their steady pressure as the game gradually lost some of its ebb and flow.
Everton created two chances in as many minutes when the lively Stanley Mills – who impressed again after a positive display against Arsenal in Baltimore on Saturday – saw a shot deflected by a Minnesota defender, before Dele was unable to convert close range after a sparkling cross from Holgate.
Minnesota then added a fourth goal with just over 10 minutes to go when Abu Danladi finished from six yards out.
Everton First Half: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Keane, Mykolenko, Gordon, Doucoure, Davies, Iwobi, Gray, Calvert-Lewin.
Everton second half: Crellin, Holgate, Godfrey, Mina, Nkounkou, Warrington (Price 71′), Gbamin, Dele, Gordon (Dobbin 64′), Gray (Mills 64′), Rondon.
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