Not much went right for Minnesota United in Sunday night’s 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park, a venue in which the Loons are now 0-3-0 – with just one goal scored and a whopping 11 conceded – since joining MLS last year.
Postgame, coach Adrian Heath broke down what he saw as the key to Sporting’s latest dominant win over their Midwest counterparts, lamenting the central-midfield dominance of KC’s 4-3-3 shape in particular.
“I didn't think that we ever got enough pressure on their three men in midfield. They have the two attacking guys and then they have [holding mid] Ilie Sanchez who comes in there,” said Heath. “We never really go to grips with that like we did a couple weeks ago at home [in a 1-1 draw with SKC]. I know it's away from home and they obviously are a lot more confident, but we didn't do a good job of that. The wide guys kept coming in and then they get it wide to [fullback Graham] Zusi and we never came to terms.
“They make it really, really difficult for the opposition,” he added of SKC’s high press. “They play nearly a five and a five. Their front five push and press. And if your quality is not good enough to break that initial press – and it's strange, because every time we did, we were dangerous in the first half. We had two or three really good breakaways. The final ball wasn't particularly good, but if you're going to come here and get a result, when you have your moments you have to make them. Because they just keep coming and they keep coming.”
Seeing Loons midfielders Ibson and Rasmus Schuller swamped, Heath made a halftime adjustment, replacing Alexi Gomez with Maximiano to buttress his team in the engine room. Yet that plan was soon obliterated when the Brazilian received two yellow cards in less than 20 minutes.
“I just thought that if we got another body in the midfield, that would allow the wide guy to get a little bit closer to [Zusi]. I thought the change helped us. We looked as though we had started the second half well. With the sending-off after that and being down to 10 men, it affected everything after that,” said a frustrated Heath, whose Loons are now 1-6 on the road and 1-3-1 in their last five games.
“We need to sit down and go through it with the staff and look at the videos and look at the goals we've conceded and see if we can come up with a different shape or do something different to make it better,” he added. “I've said it probably three or four times this year, if you keep conceding two or three goals on the road, you ain't going to win too many games. That was the case this evening.”