Jack Warrick from our staff covered for me at United training today. Here's his report:.
United defender Ike Opara participated in part of training Monday and coach Adrian Heath said he is hopeful he will play Wednesday in the Loons’ home game against LA Galaxy.
Opara missed a 4-3 loss to Toronto FC Friday after he banged heads with a New York City FC player the week before and needed seven stitches to close a gash over his eye. Opara felt better during the team's training at the National Sports Center, Heath said.
His return would help the Loons’ depleted roster; midfielder Jan Gregus and defender Francisco Calvo will miss the game Wednesday because of red cards issued near the end of Friday's game.
“Calvo’s was silly,” Heath said referring to his team's captain, who kicked a Toronto's player leg out from under him and left United with just nine players to finish the game. “He gave the referee no alternative really.”
LA Galaxy, led in scoring by forward Zlatan Ibrahimović, is second in the Western Conference standings with a 6-1 record. The teams met March 16 in Los Angeles, with Minnesota United (now 3-3-1) losing 3-2. Ibrahimović did not play because of an injury.
Since then, Ibrahimović has scored seven goals — the second most in the MLS — in five games.
“Certainly we know that if we make the mistakes we have been doing in the last couple of weeks that, inveritably, Zlatan will be in the right spot,” Heath said. “And inveritably, it ends up in the back of the net.”
Collin Martin loaned
United midfielder Collin Martin has been loaned to the Hartford Athletic of the United Soccer League, Heath said.
Martin played in 12 games last season and started five of them, but hasn't played yet this season on a team that remade its roster during the offseason.
Gasper on the way back
Loons rookie defender Chase Gasper also practiced Monday after he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. He is expected to be ready to return to game action by week's end, Heath said.
“We might have lost a couple, but we might get two or three back,” Heath said.
Veteran midfielder Miguel Ibarra missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, but probably would have played if Friday's game at Toronto had been Sunday. He practiced Monday.
Despite their defensive struggles, United ranks No. 3 in the MLS in goals scored with 17 this season. Only Toronto FC and Los Angeles FC have more.
Settling into Allianz
Minnesota United returns to its 19,400-seat stadium looking to play better than it did in a fast and sometimes frantic paced 3-3 draw against New York City FC on April 13.
“The initial game at Allianz, maybe a little bit too much adrenaline going and I think it showed itself in the game a little bit,” defender Brent Kallman said. “I think we’ll be a little more composed this time around, and we need to show more discipline.”
Also on Monday, MLS named Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo its Player of the Week last week for his two-goal, one-assist game Friday in a 4-3 victory over United.