Back home from Arizona on their way to Orlando for more training later this week, Minnesota United didn’t allow a goal during the final two friendly games against Phoenix Rising and Houston Dynamo last week in Tucson.
Those two scoreless draws are a sign of progress for a team that allowed 71 goals -- tied for second-most in the league -- last season.
It didn’t score a goal, either, but coach Adrian Heath isn’t concerned after an off-season in which United rebuilt what Heath calls the defensive “spine” of his team while keeping creators and scorers Darwin Quintero, Angelo Rodriguez and Romario Ibarra up front.
“I think that will be a work in progress,” Heath said. “We’ve mainly focused on working on getting a good shape behind the ball. Our goals-against column obviously has been a huge concern for everybody. We really haven’t focused too much on what we’re doing going forward yet. But I expect that to get better as we go.”
Heath noted Rodriguez, Ibarra and Quintero – all back for their first full MLS season – haven’t had an off-season break back home in South America as long as the MLS’ pause.
“This is probably the longest break they’ve ever had if you look at the way their seasons are run down there,” Heath said. “They’ll probably take a touch longer to get up to speed, but obviously next week down in Orlando we can expect our forward play to be better than it has been so far.”
The Loons train daily and will play games against MLS opponents New England, New York City F.C. and Orlando City while they prepare in Florida for their March 2 season opener at Vancouver.
Ibarra scored three goals in nine games after he was acquired in mid-season a year ago and Rodriguez scored four times in 11 games since he arrived in Minnesota.
“Every coach, you have to look at your team and ask, `Do we have enough goals in it. I think we do. That’s something that ultimately will play out when we play.”
More from training today:
- Newly acquired goalkeeper Vito Mannone trained with his new teammates Monday in Blaine for the first time while newcomer Romain Metanire finished up medical examinations that day. He will join in for the first time fully in Orlando. He arrived in Minnesota Friday after working out work-permit and other issues.
“We don’t expect any difficulties with him,” Heath said. “He’s fit and healthy.”
- Mannone arrived in Minnesota last week on loan from Reading in England’s Championship league presumably as the team’s starter.
When Heath was asked if he has talked with last season’s starter Bobby Shuttleworth about the matter, he said, “Obviously, Bobby has been aware over the course of the offseason that we’ve been looking for a goalkeeper. The fact that we had two (on roster), that was always going to be the case. Goalkeeper is like any other position, you can’t go into a season with one guy. That’s impossible. When you bring somebody in with Vito’s experience and what he’s done in the game, then obviously there’s going to be a competition.”
- Midfielder Kevin Molino worked on his fitness while his teammates trained Monday. He is coming back from ACL surgery last season and spent time in Florida last month while his teammates trained in Blaine while he rehabilitated his other knee.
- Heath said he’s “hopeful” that young forward Abu Danladi will “join us in some shape in Orlando.” He has not yet joined in training this preseason.
- Heath worked with a three-man midfield in Arizona comprised of newcomers Ozzie Alonso and Jan Gregus with Rasmus Schuller. “We might change it around in Orlando a wee bit,” Heath said. “Rasmus has come in and done well. We think with Jan and Ozzie we have a little tandem there that is good as most any in the league. So that should be a strength for us this year.”
- Six of United's 34 games this coming season will be carried nationally and FSN will carry 28, including the March 2 opener in Vancouver. ESPN2 will carry the April 13 home opener, which, of course, is also the debut of new Allianz Field. The broadcast team of play-by-play Callum Williams, analyst Kyndra de St. Aubin and sideline reporter Jamie Watson is back for another season for FSN.
Here it is:
2019 Minnesota United Broadcast Schedule
Date Opponent Time (CT) Television Radio
SAT 3/2 @ Vancouver Whitecaps 5:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 3/9 @ San Jose Earthquakes 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 3/16 @ LA Galaxy 9:30 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 3/30 @ New England Revolution 1:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 4/6 @ New York Red Bulls 6:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 4/13 NYCFC 4:00 p.m. ESPN2 SKOR North
FRI 4/19 @ Toronto FC 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
WED 4/24 LA Galaxy 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SUN 4/28 DC United 12:30 p.m. FS1 SKOR North
SAT 5/4 Seattle Sounders 7:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 5/11 @ Chicago Fire 7:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 5/18 Columbus Crew 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 5/25 Houston Dynamo 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
WED 5/29 @ Atlanta United 6:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SUN 6/2 Philadelphia Union 3:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 6/8 @ Colorado Rapids 8:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 6/29 FC Cincinnati 3:00 p.m. ESPN SKOR North
WED 7/3 San Jose Earthquakes 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 7/6 @ Montreal Impact 6:30 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 7/13 FC Dallas 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 7/20 @ Real Salt Lake 9:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SAT 7/27 Vancouver Whitecaps 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SUN 8/4 Portland Timbers 3:00 p.m. ESPN SKOR North
SAT 8/10 @ FC Dallas 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
WED 8/14 Colorado Rapids 7:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SAT 8/17 Orlando SC 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
THU 8/22 @ Sporting Kansas City 8:30 p.m. ESPN SKOR North
SUN 9/1 @ LAFC 9:30 p.m. FSN SKOR North
WED 9/11 @ Houston Dynamo 7:30 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SUN 9/15 Real Salt Lake 4:30 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SUN 9/22 @ Portland Timbers 3:00 p.m. ESPN SKOR North
WED 9/25 Sporting Kansas City 7:00 p.m. FSN+ SKOR North
SUN 9/29 LAFC 6:30 p.m. FSN SKOR North
SUN 10/6 @ Seattle Sounders 3:00 p.m. FSN SKOR North
Schedule Subject to Change
All Times Central
+ airs on FOX Sports North PLUS
All Games Simulcast on FOX Sports Wisconsin