Heath on Minnesota United loss: A "harsh reflection" of debut performance

Sebastian Blanco - John Alvbage - Portland Timbers - Minnesota United - falling

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Minnesota United FC head coach Adrian Heath was well aware the task in front of his side on Friday, in their MLS debut, would not be easy.

“We knew today was going to be really, really tough,” he told reporters following his team’s 5-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park, the biggest opening-day loss for an expansion team in MLS history.

“I’m sure the narrative will be that this is just the harsh realities of the league,” Heath said. “And it is, to an extent. But 5-1 doesn’t really reflect how the game went."

Minnesota United appeared to get a big break in the 79th minute, when forward Christian Ramirez breathed new life for the expansion team by scoring the club's first goal in MLS, putting the game within reach at 2-1.

But just moments later, Minnesota defender Vadim Demidov was whistled for a foul on Fanendo Adi in the box, and the Timbers scored three goals in quick succession to pull away late.

“In the 82nd minute, it’s still 2-1,” Heath said. “To finish the game 5-1 was a little bit of harsh reflection of the evening.”

Heath praised Ramirez, already a star for Minnesota United prior to this season and in 2014 the top scorer in the NASL, for being able to get on top of a well-placed ball from Johan Venegas, noting the striker's ability in the box.

With Ramirez and another returning Minnesota United star, midfielder Miguel Ibarra, both rather surprisingly starting the game on the bench, Heath stopped short of saying whether either player will be starting the next match, simply saying, "We'll see."

Heath did not need to look far to find inspiration for what he described a disappointed locker room. In fact, he noted that Portland, which entered in MLS in 2011, was once where Minnesota is today.

“They’ve got good players,” Heath said, “But it took some years to put this together.”

“We knew this year was going to be tough for us, but I’m not going to be too down on this. We’ll get back to work on Monday and see what we can do.”