Minnesota United lament shocking 0-4 start: "This is unacceptable”

Adrian Heath saw the writing on the wall. 

A substitution that appeared curious at the time — bringing on an extra defender (Brent Kallman) for playmaker Emanuel Reynoso with 10 minutes left in a tie game Saturday night. 

But the Minnesota United coach saw the storm clouds forming.

“Well, at that stage, I thought we were gonna lose the game,” Heath said. “As it proved we did. I just wanted to get another defender on because they were putting a lot of balls in our box, and I thought another body in there might help us. But, it wasn’t be.”

Danny Wilson followed up with the winner two minutes later, heading in a sublime Jack Price set piece service to complete the comeback for the Colorado Rapids, who rallied from an early two-goal deficit to secure a wild 3-2 home win. 

After coming agonizingly close to a first-ever appearance in MLS Cup last year, the Loons are now 0-4 for the first time in club history, a serious damper on the most anticipated season yet.

“Very disappointed,” Jan Gregus said of the atmosphere in the locker room after the match. “Everybody here wants to win…and the expectations we had before the season, now it’s completely opposite. We are last and we didn’t win one game and the amount of goals conceded it’s like…I don’t know if it’s big or not [in MLS], but it’s very bad so…we didn’t expect this, but like I said, we need to break it with the following game because this is unacceptable.”

Heath said he had “strong words” for his team in the locker room after the final whistle. 

“It’s not a pleasurable place to be, in a locker room, after throwing a game away like we have tonight,” Heath said. “And, obviously, there’s some strong words said. That’s all by the by. We had a chance to do our talking on the field. The second half was poor. Really poor.”

For the opening 45 minutes, it appeared Minnesota would break out of their early-season doldrums. A well-struck Reynoso free kick gave the Loons a 17th-minute lead. That advantage doubled just seven minutes later on a goal by Hassani Dotson

It was a bright start, which was a stark contrast of how Minnesota played after the halftime break. 

“I thought we were outstanding in the first half. And then all the things we were good at in the first half, we weren’t in the second,” Heath said. “Our ball retention was really poor. Our decision making was poor. And our general defending of the penalty area was poor as well. Every time we put the ball in the box, I don’t think we’ve done really well enough. And, once again, we made a few errors that cost us.”

The odds were not in Minnesota’s favor to make the playoffs following an 0-3 start. And while they didn’t get any better after a fourth straight loss, Gregus said it’s not even something worth thinking about right now. 

“To be honest, we are not in the place to look at that right now, we have to win the next game and then win, and win, and win,” Gregus said. “We have to look in front of ourselves and right now we are not even in position to look for the playoffs with these kinds of performances, like for example the second half.”

That puts even added emphasis on the Loons next game — a matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) at Allianz Field. 

“We have to play better. We have to play for 90 minutes and not 45,” Heath said. “For sure. And, obviously, it’s a huge game for us on Wednesday. If we’re not aware of it, we should be. We’re at this stage now where we gotta start winning some games and getting some points on the board.”