From a vantage point 1,500 miles away, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath saw a need for change in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Galaxy in Los Angeles.
He watched from home in Minnesota sidetracked by an oral infection when his team fell behind 2-0 in the first half before it made a spirited but unsuccessful second-half comeback attempt.
Back at training Tuesday, Heath called himself feeling much better, if not yet 100 percent, with no help from a first half that ended United’s two-game winning streak to start the season.
“That didn’t help me, the first-half performance,” Heath said. “That probably put me in relapse for about five days.”
Heath praised the energy and pace second-half substitutes Abu Danladi, Angelo Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay provided a team about which he said, “We weren’t like we have been, even going back to preseason.” Without naming names, he sounded unhappy with the play up and with a defense that didn’t pressure the ball nearly enough.
“I have opportunity now to change one or two things,” Heath said. “There are one or two things that give me cause for concern and then there’s one or two things where I think, well, if that’s a problem, we do have alternatives that we probably haven’t had in the past.”
In noting the lift the three substitutes provided, Heath said, “That’s the characteristics of them three players. What you don’t expect is you’re putting them in because of what’s gone on in the first half…This is the most we’ve had for strength in depth since I’ve been here. One or two probably are not quite ready for that. We have to decide: Can Ethan start? Can Abu start a game? How far away is (midfielder Kevin) Molino away? Does Angeles deserve to start?
“These are all questions I have to ask myself before the next game.”
Heath and his assistants have some time to answer those questions. United has a bye week during a window for international play.
Jan Gregus, Romario Ibarra, Rasmus Schuller, Francisco Calvo and Romain Metanire all have gone to play with their national teams. Ibarra's Ecuador team plays the U.S. team Thursday in Orlando.
With the break for a March 30 game at New England, Heath on Tuesday also gave regulars Michael Boxall, Ike Opara, Ozzie Alonso, Vito Mannone and Miguel Ibarra an optional day to rest or train on their own as they wish.
Meanwhile, star Darwin Quintero was away in Mexico getting his green card finalized.
A couple other things from training today:
- While those 11 were missing or, like Miguel Ibarra, watching from the side, United welcomed newly acquired 34-year-old veteran Lawrence Olum to training Tuesday.
He played for the Minnesota Thunder in 2009 and played for Heath in Austin, Tex., and Orlando as well.
“Great guy, great teammate, great in the locker room,” Heath said. “Really good player. So for us it was a no-brainer.”
Olum signed as a free agent after playing for Portland the last two seasons and with Opara for Sporting Kansas City before that.
Olum called his return to Minnesota “a bunch of things working together” and said, “It was just an easy fit for me. So when they called, I answered and I’m here now.”
- Heath had been hopeful Molino might see some action in Friday’s closed-door scrimmage with United’s Madison, Wisc., affiliate, but didn’t sound so sure about that Tuesday.
Molino is returning from knee surgery early last season.
“We were hoping maybe he’d get a little time,” Heath said. “That might have come a little quick. We’re hoping he’d be ready for the (April 13) home opener. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s still the case.”
* Finlay and defender Brent Kallman will be on FSN's Wild pre-game show before tonight's game against Colorado to discuss the team and new Allianz Field.
* A big Derrick Rose fan, Miguel Ibarra is headed to the Wolves-Golden State game tonight to meet the former NBA league MVP.