Lightning delayed Minnesota United’s 3-1 loss at FC Dallas by nearly an hour at halftime Saturday night, and by then coach Adrian Heath’s team trailed 2-0 after it allowed goals within 90 seconds in the first 12 minutes.
The delay allowed Heath more time to say things at halftime he said he couldn’t repeat in a postgame video conference call with reporters.
It didn’t, however, provide enough time for players to do the same, not after they fell behind an opponent that hadn’t scored a goal in its first three regular-season games back from the pandemic pause.
Heath sent four substitutes into the game after halftime and removed his entire attacking four front.
Afterward, he fumed during his video call and threatened lineup changes — including possibly giving newly signed attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso his first MLS action — for Wednesday’s game at Houston.
“I don’t listen to what they’ve got to say,” Heath said. “They don’t have an opinion. I had enough to look at in the first half. This was not a conversation. I know what wins football games. You win games by competing from the very first whistle. You win games by winning your individual battles. You win games by running around. … If you do not run, you don’t fight, you don’t tackle, you can’t win a game of football. It’s impossible.”
When his team didn’t do nearly enough of those things in Saturday’s first half, it allowed FC Dallas attackers too much room to create their first two goals, one right after the other.
So Heath sent in substitutes Thomas Chacon, Hassani Dotson, Mason Toye and Raheem Edwards to start the second half for attackers Luis Amarilla, Robin Lod, Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay.
“If I had more substitutes, trust me, I would have made more changes,” Heath said. “If we could have made seven or eight changes in the first half, I would have done it.”
The substitutes delivered with a second half that provided what the starting 11 lacked in the first half.
“Just as simple as bringing fresh legs and energy,” Dotson said, reciting a list of factors that changed things in the second half.
Dotson made it a game again with his 25-yard, left-footed strike that curved around the FC Dallas goalkeeper and made it 2-1 in the 55th minute. Known already for his “bangers,” Dotson scored on another powerful strike from distance.
“I thought it was a joke, but he really scores bangers for real,” Edwards said. “I know he scored a lot of good goals, but he only scores bangers — and it’s his left foot. I’ve never seen him score a tap-in. He’s really good at it. He really scores bangers only.”
Three minutes later, Edwards’ left-foot strike from the 18-yard box corner slammed off the far, left post.
“It hit inside the post, too,” Edwards said. “I don’t know how it didn’t go in.”
Ozzie Alonso and Jan Gregus had their scoring chance as well before FC Dallas’ penalty kick in second-half stoppage time’s final seconds made it a two-goal game again.
When asked if his four second-half substitutes had played their way into the 11 for Wednesday, Heath said, “Well, they’ve certainly given themselves more of an opportunity for playing on Wednesday, trust me.”
Heath knows what he wants to see, from whoever plays Wednesday: Run, fight, tackle.
“Then we can talk about systems, then we talk about tactics,” Heath said. “Because, trust me, without the other side, you can’t win.”