Sam Nicholson's goal celebration seemed to have stumped the Minnesota United fan base.
After scoring what proved to be the game-winning header in the home opener against the Chicago Fire this past Saturday, the winger made a symbol with his hands and kissed it before going to hug his teammates on the sideline. Nicholson said Tuesday after practice at the National Sports Center that he made the letter K in honor of his friend Kyle. (Watch below or click here to see it.)
"It was for a friend I've got, a friend currently in Australia who's in a coma," Nicholson said. "It's just an appreciation thing because he's a really close friend of mine. It was just basically a goal dedicated to him."
Nicholson didn't go into much detail about what happened to his best friend growing up in Scotland who was in Australia for work, saying it was a "long story." But he did say Kyle has recovered reasonably well up to this point, and everyone is hoping for a speedy recovery.
Nicholson said while it's been tough to deal with this personally, being so far away and having only Kyle's family to communicate with and give him updates on his friend's condition, he's also committed to staying on track with United.
"He's a strong boy, and I've got to have a professional attitude and focus on football at the same time," Nicholson said. "In my spare time, I'm obviously checking up on him. But when I'm here, I'm working hard."
Some other notes from practice:
Just the national team guys (Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall and Rasmus Schuller) as well as the injured Sam Cronin, Kevin Molino and Tyrone Mears were missing. That means Abu Danladi (left hamstring) and newcomer Luiz Fernando (knee) were both back in with the group.
Coach Adrian Heath said Mears' right calf pull is "day-to-day," his go-to injury classification.
"It's probably a little bit early, I would think, for him at the weekend," Heath said. "But he's a lot better than we thought."
Mears being possibly out 6 p.m. Saturday at the New York Red Bulls will also impact United's free kicks and corner kicks. Mears has been the designated taker of those. Last season, midfielders Ibson and Kevin Molino largely split those duties, depending on which side of the pitch the set pieces were. But Molino is out for the season with an ACL tear.
"The quality of his delivery has been excellent," Heath said of Mears. "Puts it in the right area. We probably haven't done as well as I would have liked to have gotten on the end of some of his crosses, but certainly, we've been a lot more dangerous this year with our set pieces than we were last year."
In practice, United worked a few different back lines, since the team will likely be without three of its four starters . Here were the combos:
Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Wyatt Omsberg, Marc Burch
Carter Manley, Kallman, Bertrand Owundi Eko'o, Burch
Manley, Omsberg, Owundi Eko'o, Thiesson
Heath also mentioned that this past Saturday's game against Chicago was the highest intensity running his players have done since he's been here, as the numbers from the team's GPS trackers proved.
And another random Nicholson note, he got some new ink from a tattoo artist Calvo touts. It's two magpies, which are common birds in Scotland and part of a nursery rhyme his mom used to recite to him. Aww. A few guys actually got new tats from Calvo's guy, if you've been paying attention to their Instagrams.
One last final random note and then I'll sign off of this sporadic blog: United announced it has sold out of the premium seats included in the current seat transition process for the new stadium after 13 days of tours at the Allianz Field Experience Center. That's more than 600 seats in the Upper 90 Club, Loge Boxes, Field Club and Director’s Box. There's now a waiting list for those seats, and the Stadium Club seating process will begin in early April. As an FYI, season-ticket holders are invited to select their seats for that 2019 season based on their tenure as a season-ticket holder and seat location in TCF Bank Stadium. There's three more phases after the Stadium Club: Midfield; Lower Bowl including Supporters and Upper Bowl.
OK, thanks for listening to my TED Talk.