ORLANDO, Fla.—Adrian Heath’s return to Orlando was everything he thought it would be.
It was an electric crowd in a venue he helped build, but most importantly it was Minnesota United’s first win of the season through a 2-1 victory over Orlando City on Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium.
“The stadium was everything I thought it was going to be,” Heath told reporters after the game. “The noise was fantastic in the stadium. I thought the crowd tried to drive their players on … that’s what I expected. I know what the crowd is like.
“[But] I’m pleased we got the result, but I do hope we can win more games and get up the table,” Heath added. “[Orlando is] still one of the first results I look for every week. You don’t spend the time I spent here and not have some emotional attachment.”
A two-goal performance from Ethan Finlay helped catapult the Loons to their first three points of the season, but ensured Heath remained unbeaten against his former club after beating the Lions 1-0 last season at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
But after the win, Heath did not hesitate to reminisce about his time with Orlando City.
“When I was here, it becomes more than wins and losses,” said Heath. “I’ve seen the people that’ve grown in this stadium. It was nice to see The Wall full, nice to see some friends there, but the most important thing for us today is that we won the game.”
Heath spent 6 1/2 years with Orlando City, leading the Lions to two USL championships in 2011 and 2013. But after a bad run of games toward the middle part of the 2016 MLS season, the Englishman was let go on July 2016 and later officially replaced by current Orlando coach Jason Kreis.
“I’ll always have a relationship with them people. They’ve been appreciative of what I did for them, and I’m surely appreciative for what they did for me,” Heath said. “This club welcomed me and my family for 6 1/2 years … I’ll always be grateful for that.”
Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, who also spent six years with the Lions dating back to their USL days, also made his first return to Central Florida, but it was short lived.
The Trinidad & Tobago international, who set up Finlay's first goal, suffered a non-contact injury in the 50th minute and was replaced by Collen Warner. Initial reports on the Minnesota broadcast indicated Molino will be evaluated when the team returns home.