See more of the story

Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath’s shift from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-3-3 configuration has helped his team possess the ball more with an extra midfielder present and defend better, last Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Chicago notwithstanding.

It also has put star Darwin Quintero in a reserve’s role the past two games — his first two times as a Loon — during a season in which he hasn’t been the scorer — other than on penalty kicks — he was a year ago. United has scored twice in four games, but Heath says it isn’t for a lack of chances, other than the Chicago game.

Heath was asked if his team can defend like it has and still get Quintero going, starting with Saturday’s home game against Columbus.

“Well, we’re hoping so,” Heath said after Friday’s training. “We’ll see what we do tomorrow, but he’s looking lively in training. I thought he actually showed more life about him last week when he came on in the second half. There’s no doubt if we’re going to be at our best going forward over the course of the season, we need him to be at his best because he’s really good at what he does. And we need him to be at his best.”

Waiting on baby

United ironman defender Romain Metanire didn’t train with the team Friday. He was with his wife at the hospital one day after he said “baby is coming” as the couple await their second child.

“Hopefully, the baby will come sooner rather than later,” Heath said when asked about Metanire’s availability for Saturday’s game.

With Francisco Calvo traded away and Chase Gasper and Carter Manley out injured, United’s options at outside back include Eric Miller, Miguel Ibarra, rookie midfielder Hassani Dotson and veteran Lawrence Olum. Center back Michael Boxall could play there, too.

More Molino

United veteran midfielder Kevin Molino hasn’t played the past three games after he started and went 61 minutes in a scoreless tie with the L.A. Galaxy last month. Heath said Molino will be “involved at some stage” in Saturday’s game on his way back from knee surgery early last season.

“We just feel we’ve had to put more fitness into it,” Heath said. “For him to be his best, he needs to be really sharp. We’ve worked him hard the last couple weeks and we feel he’s getting closer to where he was. It doesn’t come overnight.”

Trending

Columbus started the season 4-1-1 but has lost six of its past seven games.

“They’ve had a bad last couple weeks,” Heath said. “Obviously, their results haven’t been so good of late. …This is a team that has made the playoffs the last two, three years and gone a long way. It’s not going to be easy.”