As disappointing as it was that the Union’s attack sputtered in Saturday’s season-opening 1-1 tie with Minnesota United at Subaru Park, it wasn’t entirely surprising.

Julián Carranza and Cory Burke played some together in the preseason, but not a ton; and manager Jim Curtin preferred Leon Flach to Jack McGlynn in central midfield, which limited the team’s creativity. (Curtin’s preference and the outcome definitely weren’t surprising.)

What really surprised was the Union’s defensive struggles. A back six that returned all of its starters — with many among the best at their positions in MLS — gave up 14 shots, of which six went on target; and a back line that often high-presses trapped Minnesota offside just once.

» READ MORE: Union held to disappointing 1-1 tie by Minnesota United in season opener

The goal that the Union conceded in the 23rd minute included a few major errors. Olivier Mbaizo’s misplay of Minnesota left back Bayake Dibassy’s long ball down the left wing, which allowed Franco Fragapane to break free, was obviously the worst.

“What leads to Olivier getting into a little bit of a footrace was letting the ball bounce, and when that happens, it can kind of be an equalizer,” Curtin said. “From there, we’re scrambling — Olivier recovers but then gets beat again to the end line, to a part of the field where we really don’t want to let our opponent into.”

But watch the replay of the goal and other issues quickly come to light.

Jack Elliott was ball-watching as Minnesota striker Luis Amarilla ran in behind him. Jakob Glesnes was between Fragapane and Amarilla, and was late to commit to the latter. Kai Wagner wasn’t just ball-watching, he was all but ignoring Loons right-winger Robin Lod, giving up an acre of space for Lod to run into unmarked on his way to meet Fragapane’s centering pass.

Wagner then moved toward the near post to try to block a shot he knew was coming, but Lod made sure Wagner had no chance at it.

And to cap things off, José Andrés Martínez and Flach weren’t even in the camera frame when Lod arrived. Martínez got to about six yards beyond the 18-yard box when Lod shot, and Flach wasn’t anywhere close.

» READ MORE: An analysis of the Union’s roster at the start of the 2022 season

“Once the cutback happens, I think we’re a little bit too quick to drop and make a play and knock a ball down off the goal line, rather than being tight with our men,” Curtin said. “Overall, you know, a lot of things we could do on the goal to prevent it. It’s a sloppy one to give up, one we know that we can’t accept.”

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Burke to equalize. And as Mikael Uhre surely knew while watching the game from the stands, a team that takes 19 shots in a game probably ought to score more than one of them, even if more of those shots were blocked (7) than went on target (5).

The expected goals statistic (xG for short), which measures how many goals a team should score in a game based on the quality of the shots, put the Union at 1.29 and Minnesota at 0.88. That’s a clear advantage, though as with all soccer stats it only matters so much. In the English Premier League on Saturday, mighty Manchester United was held to a scoreless tie at home by next-to-last-place Watford despite an xG advantage of 2.66-0.57.

If you missed Kacper Przybylko, at least you knew Uhre was in the stands. And Przybylko didn’t do much in his Chicago Fire debut, just two shots in a scoreless tie at Inter Miami.

If you missed Jamiro Monteiro, that’s certainly understandable. He might have picked open Minnesota’s defense more than Flach did, and he had a great game in his San Jose debut: 51-of-56 passing and 11 recoveries. But his teammates didn’t measure up, leading to a 3-1 upset at home by the New York Red Bulls.

Would McGlynn have made the difference for the Union with a start, instead of a 68th-minute arrival as a substitute for Flach? As has been written here plenty already, that’s the biggest starting-lineup question that Curtin faces right now. He was asked after the game, and he answered.

“Leon had a great preseason, worked really hard on the defensive side; obviously Jack maybe has a little more in the attack, and as the game slowed down, we thought it was a chance to get him into the match,” Curtin said. “Overall, there’s going to be, obviously, competition not just at that position, but at every position, which is natural and healthy. I thought both guys were good today. Not great, but both guys were good.”

» READ MORE: Union manager Jim Curtin is under pressure this year, but he doesn’t mind