WOODBURY, Minn. -- "It hurts me."
Two games into his MLS career, Norwegian defender Vadim Demidov is visibly frustrated at Minnesota United's difficult start. His dual roles of center back and club captain combined with growing pains adjusting to a new league thus far means that he has been one of the focal points for criticism.
It isn’t so much the criticism that bothers Demidov as it is the results. Minnesota United have begun their MLS expansion season in embarrassing fashion, losing 5-1 on the road to the Portland Timbers before taking a 6-1 shellacking at home against Atlanta United. The 11 goals conceded have given Minnesota an unwanted MLS record, as no other club in league history has conceded five or more tallies in consecutive matches.
Demidov says there are no excuses for the results, but adds that there is a "steep learning curve."
“In a new league, a new country, and with new teammates, you have to adapt quickly," said Demidov.
For his part, Loons head coach Adrian Heath was reticent to place any specific blame on the 30-year-old defender. Heath said he had “spoken generally” with his captain, but didn’t want to go into many details.
"Vadim has come out and said he hasn’t played as well as he can," said Heath.
It is unclear if Demidov’s place in the lineup is threatened going into Saturday's road game against the Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but Heath was adamant that he still believes in his players.
"I haven’t given up on this group yet,” Heath said before pausing and then speaking again. “One or two other people might have, but I certainly haven’t.”
At least one change to the Loons' starting lineup is guaranteed for the weekend, as starting goalkeeper John Alvbage was ruled out due to an injury suffered late into the Atlanta defeat. With third-string netminder Patrick McLain also out for the Rapids' tilt due to concussion protocol, Bobby Shuttleworth is the player likely to start in goal. The Loons did sign former University of Maryland, Baltimore County product Billy Heavner on an emergency loan to give the club another able body that can play the position.
Both Heath and Demidov refused to feel sorry for themselves despite their current situation, and are instead looking forward to possibly bouncing back in a difficult match-up against the defensively-stingy Rapids.
“You can’t just dig a hole because we have a lot of season left," Demidov said. "It looks terrible now, but in soccer things change quickly.”
Help could be on the way, however. Heath may be sticking by his players, but he also left room for a few additions to help shore up his squad.
“I would be hopeful if the right player came available we could [sign them]," said Heath. "At this moment and time we’re looking for one or two players.”