Adrian Heath highlights why Minnesota United struggle against 10 men
By Chris Smith
Minnesota United boss Adrian Heath has highlighted his team's lack of patience as the reason for their struggles playing against 10 men this season
For the third time in 2021, the Loons failed to pick up a victory after an opposing player was sent off, with the Colorado Rapids scoring three goals in the final 17 minutes to win 3-1 at Allianz Field, despite Danny Wilson being sent off in the 57th minute.
Minnesota have now taken just two points in games where an opponent has been shown a red card. Heath believes his side have a bad habit of throwing their gameplan out of the window when playing against 10 men.
“Because we’ve changed the way we’ve played," he responded when asked about this unusual trend by reporters.
"We’ve stopped trying to play through the field, waiting for openings, side to side, getting overloads on opposite sides. We’ve gone long, we’ve gone straight, we’ve been playing straight balls.
"The only place that they haven’t lost anybody is in the back. It’s 4-4-1. So, that part of the field is still exactly the same. You have to move the ball. You have to move it quickly. Side to side. Get people in little holes. Get the little passes playing. Little combination play. Not long, straight balls, because, for a lot of central defenders, that’s food and drink.
"And that’s what we’ve done today. We got desperate and played desperate instead of playing our football, which was getting us the opportunities.”
This was also a huge blown opportunity for Minnesota to consolidate themselves in the Western Conference playoff places. Three points would have taken them to fifth in the table but, as such, they remain seventh, just a point clear of the Vancouver Whitecaps below them and four ahead of LAFC.
The Loons have games against both those opponents to look forward to before the end of the regular season. Heath admitted Sunday's defeat will have given the chasing pack "belief".
"All of a sudden, it’s been a great result for all the teams in and around us and below us," he added.
"[It] gives them a little bit of belief now. So, when you look at the running, we’ve got to play each other. Got to go to Vancouver, LA [LAFC] are coming. So, they’re the games that are going to be huge for us.”
Next up for Minnesota is a trip to bottom-of-the-West Austin FC on Saturday.