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In their first public comments, Minnesota United's coach and two players said Tuesday that they believe a Loons player who denies allegations he directed a racial slur at Timbers star Diego Chara on Saturday in Portland, Ore., but will wait for Major League Soccer investigation's completion.

Loons coach Adrian Heath spoke briefly on the matter after the team held a training session Tuesday in Blaine.

"A couple things really important to say: The record of this club since I've been here for inclusivity and diversity has been first class," said Heath. "It's something we don't take lightly. We spoke to the player. The player vehemently denies he said anything, so we will believe what the player tells us and obviously there's an investigation going on. We're cooperating 100 percent with everything that we know and that has been said."

Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese started his postgame media conference Saturday after the Loons' 1-0 victory with an emotional, nearly two-minute address on what he termed a "racist situation, a racial discriminatory word" that he called "not acceptable." He didn't name the Loons player or the word or phrase used.

Major League Soccer opened an investigation Sunday morning.

Loons veteran midfielder Wil Trapp was in the middle of a three-minute game delay starting in the 63rd minute, soon after an incident that involved Chara and new Loons midfielder Franco Fragapane.

Chara kicked toward and collided with Fragapane from behind while Fragapane used his chest to control a ball and knocked Chara to the turf.

Chara, Timbers captain Diego Valeri, Trapp, Loons captain Michael Boxall and referee Rosendo Mendoza conferred on the field. Savarese later criticized Mendoza for taking no action and not handling the situation better.

"We were trying to get an understanding what happened and even more so, can it be corroborated, right?" Trapp said. "That was the biggest thing. Rosendo the referee didn't hear it. I didn't hear it. Valeri didn't hear it and Chara was coming to us to explain what happened. It's a situation in which it's hard to know exactly the circumstances and what was said, right? So I know there's an investigation going on. For us, it's difficult to make any assumptions."

Loons midfielder Jacori Hayes, a member of the league's Black Players for Change, was asked what-if the investigation concludes the allegations true.

"It'd be troubling, something we'd have to handle internally for sure," said Hayes, who did not play Saturday. "But we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I hope not. Yeah, we'll just see what happens."

Heath said he asked other Loons players what they heard or didn't hear.

"We've been through all that and nobody has heard anything," Heath said. "The referee didn't hear anything, so we'll see. We'll go through the proper channels and hopefully the right outcome will come because at this moment we are very, very strong behind our player. …

"It's picked up a life of its own since. We'll let the powers that be sort it out."

Gregus, Raitala return

Back from the European Championship, Loons center midfielder Jan Gregus and defender Jukka Raitala returned to training Tuesday. Finland's Robin Lod took a detour to Minnesota, stopping at home in Helsinki for an appointment to get his U.S. green card. Starting right back Romain Metanire is doing the same in France.

Heath said he was uncertain if one or both would be back and ready to play Saturday against San Jose at Allianz Field.

"Sometimes it has been a day or two, sometimes it has been a week," he said. "You never know. Each country is a little different when you're waiting for your paperwork to come through."

Tokyo-bound, but when?

Heath said "maybe" when asked if the Loons could keep defender Michael Boxall for two more games before he joins his New Zealand Olympic team bound for Tokyo.

"As late as possible, I hope," Heath said.

Celebrating his 26th

Hayes headed to the airport after training Tuesday to pick up his mother, father, two sisters and younger brother to celebrate his 26th birthday for the week. His parents met in Minnesota through a 3M summer internship. About plans for Tuesday's birthday dinner, he said, "We'll see if my dad is paying. If I'm paying, it might be McDonald's, might get a McFlurry."