Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath on Tuesday said he'll coach Saturday's game at Colorado with next week's home game against Vancouver in mind.
That's because six first-teamers — Dayne St. Clair, Robin Lod, Michael Boxall, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Kervin Arriaga and Joseph Rosales — all are headed off for national-team duty after Saturday's game and will miss the March 25 game against the Whitecaps. So, too, will second-teamer Molik Jesse Khan.
Heath said that will cause him to rest some players in Denver that normally would play Saturday just to be certain he has enough healthy bodies for the Vancouver game.
"It's not ideal, but we will pick the team in Colorado with that in mind and work from there," Heath said. "What I won't do is jeopardize people I know are going to be here for the following week. Maybe they get injured and then you're more men down. We'll take that into consideration when we pick the lineup for the weekend."
Waiting on new arrival
Heath called himself "hopeful" the club's new Under-22 initiative signee will arrive as soon as Wednesday, before Saturday's game at Colorado.
Heath said his club has made a deal to acquire South Korea's 20-year-old attacker Jeong Sang-bin from the Swiss club, Grasshoppers, on loan from the Wolverhampton Wanderers in England's Premier League.
Jeong joins a Loons team that has attackers Hlongwane, Luis Amarilla, Mender Garcia and Franco Fragapane.
Heath said Jeong can play those forward positions as well as the playmaking midfielder role where suspended and absent Emanuel Reynoso played for the Loons.
"He plays wide, plays through the middle, has played the 'No. 10,' " Heath said. "He has played all them positions. I think he'll be another body who we feel at 20 years of age has an awful lot of potential there. We're really pleased with what we've seen. It looks like we've got a deal done so hopefully we'll get him in here next 24 hours."
Two center backs healing
Veteran center backs Brent Kallman and Doneil Henry trained Tuesday with a backline that has been depleted by injury.
Both have been out with hamstring injuries. Heath called Henry "closer to where he can join in fully" but not enough that he'll be available for selection on Saturday. Heath said he expects Kallman will be.
"We're going to need them because Boxy will be away the following week," Heath said.
Recently acquired center back Mikael Marques started to run on Tuesday now that the swelling in one of his ankles has gone down. Heath said he's hopeful Marques will be available for next week's Vancouver game.
Goalkeeper growing up
The Loons' loan of second-team goalkeeper Alec Smir on Monday opens a space for 19-year-old Fred Emmings.
"Fred's a baby in terms of goalkeeper years," Heath said. "Obviously now he needs to play regularly. We'd like to get more games into him where he actually has gone from academy to what I call men's football, where results suddenly matter. That's the next stage in his development."
Starting on the road
The Loons' MNUFC2 reserve team will play its first six games away from Blaine's National Sports Center, starting March 24 in Utah against Real Monarchs. The 9 p.m. Twin Cities time game will be on Apple TV's MLS Season Pass.
The home opener is Sunday, May 7 against Chicago Fire FC II. Select games all season long will be shown on the MLS Season Pass. MNUFC2's 28-game MLS Next Pro schedule was announced Tuesday.
Starting center back Bakaye Dibassy continues to train "really, really hard, but he's still going to be a couple months," Heath said. Dibassy ruptured a quadriceps tendon that ended his 2022 season last August.
Recently acquired from Mexico's Liga MX, Miguel Tapias is starting at Dibassy's left center-back position.