Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath has never been shy about clapping back when he feels as though there's an unfair narrative out there, whether it's about a specific player or his team as a whole.
Coming off Minnesota's 4-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Sunday, Heath stayed true to that nature, defending midfielder Robin Lod from what the coach says is unmerited criticism. Asked if he felt vindicated after Lod's two-goal outburst in the match, Heath said that it's not him that should feel vindication.
“No. It’s vindication for the kid," he said. "As I said after the game, people got to realize he plays for Minnesota and not the opposition. Some of the things that people tell me and people write about him is disgraceful. At the end of the day, he’s one of our players and we should stick up for whoever puts the shirt on. And I know that people have favorites in football clubs, because that’s the way it is. But, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to write and say the things that people say about him. So, I’m really pleased for him. At the end of the day, we’ve got a quality player. He’ll get a lot of confidence for that. I actually thought he was our best player tonight.”
Heath did not get into more specifics on the exact criticism he was referring to, though the sentiment is not tough to find, even if it may not be representative of every fan's feelings. Prior to Sunday, Lod — the club's second-highest paid player in 2019, per the MLS Players' Association — had not lit up the stat sheet in regular season-play, with one goal and no assists in eight games (seven starts), including three straight losses prior to Sunday's bounce-back win.
However, Minnesota were generally successful with Lod in the lineup to start 2020, posting a record of 5W-1L-2T up to and including their elimination in the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament, all games which Lod started. He also tallied two goals and an assist over the course of the Loons' two MLS is Back Knockout Stage wins.
However fans may feel about Lod now, though, more goals like this will be bound to keep the critics quiet: