The only new absence for Minnesota United in its Tuesday practice ahead of Saturday's Houston Dynamo match was defender Joe Greenspan, whom the Loons loaned out to the United Soccer League's Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Monday.
United coach Adrian Heath said the Riverhounds were "desperate" for a center-back and couldn't acquire one from their MLS affiliate, the Columbus Crew. So Greenspan seemed like the natural fit, having worked with Riverhounds' coach Dave Brandt in college at Navy.
Heath said because of that familiarity between coach and player, Brandt might be able to pick out certain aspects of Greenspan's play that need improvement and make a few alterations.
"One of the biggest issues we've always had is obviously with [Greenspan's] military background, he's not had enough football," Heath said. "And the bottom line is, you have to experience playing in the league and playing competitive matches to understand the game, realize what your mistakes are and try to correct them.And the best way of doing that is in, sort of, the confines of the game, not on Monday to Friday in practice. So it'll do him good."
Midfielder Bernardo Anor, who has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with a leg injury, trained on a stationary bike on the sidelines. He and defender Thomas de Villardi, who had a season-ending Achilles injury, are the two long-term absences for United. Trialist Abdoulaye Diallo is also still training with the team.
Heath also recapped the 2-0 loss at FC Dallas from this past weekend, saying there were some positives and some head-scratchers, but Dallas was at no point totally in control of the match.
"If that game on Saturday would have come in another three or four weeks, then we could have gone on and won the game," Heath said. "The one thing that's apparent: We're getting better. I think that's evident for all to see. But, you know, I don't call improvement the fact that we're losing two-nil now. I look at the way we're playing and the understanding of what we're trying to do."
As far as a theme on some of those defensive mistakes that have led to goals so far this season, Heath said it really comes down to individual errors. For example on United's second conceded goal against Dallas, Heath said right-back Jerome Thiesson could have made a better decision on whom to give the ball off the throw-in and then midfielder Sam Cronin also could have handled the ball better when it came his way instead of giving it away and ultimately allowing the goal.
Heath also commented that forward Abu Danladi is becoming "closer and closer" to making it hard for Heath to leave him out of the lineup while midfielder Rasmus Schuller is currently making it "very difficult" for the coach to not start the Finland native.