During the week, MNUFC chief soccer officer Khaled El-Ahmad met with the media, and made things overtly clear: youth is not an obstacle to overcome, with Minnesota United FC. Not anymore.

To underline the point, one of El-Ahmad’s first acts* at the National Sports Center was to tear down a wall that separated the first-team space from the academy space.

(*He probably hired it out, but I prefer to imagine him smashing through it like the Kool-Aid Man.)

That attitude is already extending to the field. Suddenly, the lineup is sprinkled with under-23 players, and the subs bench is almost exclusively youth; Kervin Arriaga, who recently turned 26, was the second-oldest player on the bench. The five subs used were 26, 23, 23, 20, and 20.

And for the second straight week, while the starting eleven might have looked good to begin the game, it was young legs charging around the field at the end that made the difference.

Tani Oluwaseyi is the season’s breakout star. Last week, against Austin, he got the first assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal. This week, he was the one to rescue a point for the Loons, charging down an end-of-game loose ball and firing over Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte to earn a draw.

Oluwaseyi faced up to the media after the game, and took more ribbing in doing so than any other player I’ve seen. (I assume this means that Oluwaseyi is one of the most popular young Loons, though I guess it’s possible that the opposite is true. “It’s good banter, it’s good for the soul,” he said.) Regardless, after his impressive loan spell in the USL last year, Oluwaseyi is a big part of the Loons attack right now - not in the future, right now at this moment.

The draw was probably an even more impressive result than last week’s win at Austin FC. Not only were the Loons missing Emanuel Reynoso and Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Robin Lod and Franco Fragpane, Columbus is an actual good team with good players, like Cucho Hernandez, who menaced Minnesota the entire evening. If it hadn’t been for a couple of outstanding saves from Dayne St. Clair, Columbus’s 1-0 second-half lead - courtesy of Cucho - could have pretty easily been a 3-0 second-half lead.

For the second consecutive week, the Loons made an extremely fast start - especially Sang Bin Jeong, who seems entirely unlocked out on the right wing. It wasn’t a position that “SBJ” played much last season, not with Hlongwane occupying the position, but so far Jeong has looked like a man reborn. He was the one driving the Minnesota offense forward early in the game, and it was his work - both offensively, and in pressing the Columbus defense - that pushed the Crew into a shell for the first half-hour of the game.

That said, by the time 30 minutes were gone, Minnesota looked like they’d already high-pressed themselves into the ground. Teemu Pukki looked especially gassed - he basically wasn’t pressing for the final 15 minutes of the first half, which is when Columbus managed to climb out of their shell and get a foothold in the game.

“It’s hard what these guys are doing,” said interim head coach Cameron Knowles. “They’re putting so much energy into the way they play, and it is early in the season. We’re seven, eight weeks into playing like this. Their fitness will continue to build that resiliency to minutes. I think you see across the league in these first couple of games, there’s general fatigue.”

I suppose there are two different ways of making the press work for an entire game. One is to get fitter, and out-run the opposition - and the other one is to have enough depth to let the substitutes bench do the extra work. This early in the season, the Loons need the second method to pay off. And so far, it’s working just fine.