MINNEAPOLIS – This was not the home opener Minnesota United envisioned.
The Loons were put on ice early in their first MLS home game, falling 3-0 within the first 27 minutes at TCF Bank Stadium before losing 6-1 to fellow expansion side Atlanta United. The Western Conference club never found its footing, allowing a goal in the third minute and struggling to recover. What made the blowout result even tougher to stomach was that it came a mere week after Minnesota suffered a 5-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers.
For Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath, there’s much to sort out.
“Poor defending,” said Heath when asked what went wrong in a post-match press conference. “I thought there were a couple of quality finishes in there on the day. We were poor at the back. We’ve got a lot of work to do there. Whether that means we change one or two things or one or two individuals, we have to look at that for next week.”
Minnesota United made two changes to their backline following the Week 1 defeat, shifting Jermaine Taylor to left back and filling his right back spot with newcomer Jerome Thiesson. However, the shift did not fix the leaky defense for Minnesota. The Loons have allowed 11 goals in their first two MLS matches, and are the first club in league history to have given up at least five tallies in back-to-back games.
“Our performance today, overall, was shocking,” said midfielder Collen Warner. “That part of it was not expected, and that needs to get better. Overall, I think people are doing the right things in training. Coming into these games, we need to be less naive and rash in our decision-making. We need to be a little bit more disciplined in our decisions.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota's attack was held in check by Atlanta, save for one penalty-kick goal by Kevin Molino in the first half. The club realizes that this side of the ball needs attention, too, after scoring just twice in two matches.
“Back to the drawing board on Monday,” said striker Christian Ramirez. “It starts from the front. We have to make sure we help the guys behind us. We just have to focus on not giving up five or six, and then we can start tightening up our defensive shape. We’ll be better off.”
Minnesota had a crowd of 35,043 that was braving the snow and sub-20-degree weather, but couldn't give the supporters a reward. The club hopes to do so the next time out, but knows there is much to correct and plenty of areas in which they can improve.
“Only positive we can take from today is the people who braved the elements to come out. The support was incredible,” said Heath. “It’s just a pity that we couldn’t give them any type of performance that warranted the support we got today. I apologize for that, because they didn’t deserve that. It goes without saying that we’ve got a lot of hard work out ahead of us.”
Added Ramirez: “It’ll get better. I promise you that."