After 'embarrassing’ end in loss at Colorado, Loons scrap time off to prep for Seattle
Sounders will come to Allianz Field for a 1 p.m. Sunday game riding an MLS-record 13 game unbeaten streak
Minnesota United planned to give players a few days off following the game at Colorado on July 7, but that plan was scrapped after a flat 2-0 loss to the Rapids. That meant players’ intentions to take quick vacations or chill longer by their pools were cancelled or curtailed.
“We didn’t deserve three or four days off,” manager Adrian Heath said Tuesday. “We worked really hard the last few days, so hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the weekend.”
The Loons’ seven-game unbeaten streak ended in last week’s defeat, and now the Seattle Sounders will come to Allianz Field for a 1 p.m. Sunday game riding an MLS-record 13 game undefeated march.
“That type of performance (vs. Colorado), I thought, was two years ago, maybe a bit more,” Heath said. “I thought we left them days behind. Obviously we haven’t, and players have to be told in no uncertain terms that what we produced in Colorado is not acceptable.
“I’ll take losing because it is part and parcel of sport, but there is a way of losing a game … You don’t go out with a whimper like we did. I thought the last 10-15 minutes were embarrassing. But we’ve addressed that. Hopefully we won’t see that again this year.”
The Loons announced Monday that CEO Chris Wright will step down at the end of the season. On Tuesday, Wright said the club was barred from using the word “retirement” in its news release. The 72-year-old said he could continue consulting with MNUFC or other clubs, possibly in Europe, while he spends more time with his family.
The club’s transition into Allianz Field in 2019 and filling it for every non-pandemic-affected game is one of Wright’s top achievements.
“I think it’s the total package,” he said of his body of work. “There isn’t one thing that stands out. It’s the ability to be able to take the beautiful game and make it really truly relevant inside the Twin Cities community.”
Wright said he hopes the new CEO will be onboard by October.
Wright confirmed a St. Paul Pioneer Press report from May that MNUFC is positioning itself to host the MLS All-Star Game.
“I expect that the All-Star Game will be in the Twin Cities within the next two years,” he said. “I think that becomes part of these tent-pole events that I’m talking about, the opportunities to grow the club.”
The 2021 All-Star Game is set for Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 25 and will be played against stars from Mexico’s Liga MX. No destination has been set by the league beyond this year for future all-star games.
The Loons were without three of four back-line starters in last week’s 2-0 loss to Colorado. Absent were Michael Boxall, Bakaye Dibassy and Romain Metanire; a trio of players all 31 or 32 years old.
Given their ages and with the secondary transfer window open through Aug. 7, will the Loons address this position group this summer?
Heath said he believes when every defender is fit, he has what he needs defensively on the current roster.
“You are always looking to add depth,” Wright said. “We go through a consistent analysis of our roster, which we think is the strongest roster that (the sporting staff) have put together in the history of our club. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get better.
“You never sit pat in this league, so you’re always analyzing every opportunity that is out there and looking at every single player that you have,” Wright continued. “I don’t want to say there are specific targets for this next window, but the analysis is ongoing.”
Boxall, who suffered a leg injury July 3, will not head to Tokyo for the Summer Games due to the setback. Boxall has started his recovery, but Sunday’s game might be too soon for his return to the Loons. Metanire could return to Minnesota from France, where he’s working on a U.S. green card, in the next few days. Dibassy has returned to training with the first team.
The Loons have accepted Ramon Abila’s red card for hitting a Rapids player during the Rapids game. He will serve a one-game suspension and could receive further reprimands for the “violent conduct” from the MLS Disciplinary Committee this week. “If you put yourself in that position, you have to understand what the consequences are,” Heath said. … Homegrown forward Patrick Weah has left for Spain to begin his two-week training stint with La Liga club Real Betis. … Wright said MLS won’t make it mandatory for clubs to have a reserve team in MLS’s second-level league until 2023. The club’s plans for 2022 have yet to be finalized, but Wright said they will go slow in that area next year.