Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath sought a competitive performance, a good show and an injury-free night Wednesday when his team met touring Hertha Berlin in the first international friendly played at new Allianz Field.
He got all but one in a 1-0 loss to a touring opponent that was one of German soccer’s founding members, dating to 1892.
Only United veteran midfielder Kevin Molino’s first-half departure because of a tight hamstring dampened an evening when Heath praised several of his young players. Rookie goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, rookie midfielder Hassani Dotson and defender Wyatt Omsberg were among those given an opportunity to play a game that didn’t count in MLS standings.
“Kevin is the only worry,” Heath said. “We’re hoping it’s not too bad for Kevin. But if Kev comes through unscathed tomorrow, it has been a really good evening. My only disappointment so far is Kevin’s minor knock. Now let’s hope it is minor.”
Molino was one of United’s few regulars who started Wednesday on a night Heath used primarily to play and evaluate his team’s young prospects. Hertha Berlin defender Peter Pekarik scored the game’s only goal just before halftime when he beat everybody to a rebound from a shot that St. Clair could neither control nor knock away.
“You either have to catch it or push it wide,” St. Clair said.
Molino had returned almost fully from knee surgery early last season when he walked carefully off the field late in the first half after briefly holding his leg.
Molino’s uncertainty, a recent trade that dealt Francisco Calvo and Tuesday’s loan that sent Romario Ibarra to a team in Mexico has left United shorthanded, with midfielder Miguel Ibarra once again starting at left back on Wednesday.
“We are,” Heath said. “But there’s never a perfect time to make decisions when people want people. You have to make that decision there and then and sometimes they come at the wrong time.”
United recalled Collin Martin from the USL’s Hartford team for the game. He started at midfield next to veteran Lawrence Olum and even played some right back for the first time. After the game, Martin said he and United management have charted out a tentative plan to shuttle him between the teams for the next six weeks so he can play full games until he gets more opportunity with United.
Martin also said he’ll return to United permanently this season, even though the team announced weeks ago he has been loaned to Hartford for this season.
“I’ll be here eventually,” Martin said.
Heath said the bigger issues with team depth are little injuries to defenders Chase Gasper, Eric Miller and Ike Opara that were unexpected.
“We’re going to get them back fit and happy and when we do, we’ll be fine,” Heath said.
Heath spoke after Wednesday’s game for the first time about the loan that will send Romario Ibarra to Mexico with an option for Liga MX’s C.F. Pachuca team to buy his contract outright at loan’s end 13 months from now. Romario Ibarra has had trouble bringing his girlfriend and child legally to the United States with him.
“I think it’s maybe something that will benefit him,” Heath said. “He’s got one or two little issues he wants to resolve off the field. We think that will help him down there, in his native tongue, and we’ll see where that leaves us. But at the moment, we feel it’s the best for everybody.”