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The United Beat

Megan Ryan writes about Major League Soccer and Minnesota United.

Minnesota United winger Sam Nicholson shares his special goal celebration

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.

Loons in jovial mood following home victory



First, read my full gamer and notebook from Minnesota United's 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. Also, read my pregame blog because it was good today, too.

My follow-up on Monday will focus on the defense and what United is going to do without three starters, who will be on national team duty this next week. But I wanted to have some fun with this postgame blog and share with you some funny moments after the game.

First from Adrian Heath. When someone asked him in his postgame presser what he attributed United's more confident play to, he said without missing a beat, "Great coaching." And then when someone asked if he was worried at all about losing center backs Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo to national team duty against the New York Red Bulls next Saturday, Heath replied, "Can I not enjoy it for two minutes?"

And in response to if he was sleeping better now than he was this time last year: "Yes. And my wife is a lot happier. Trust me."

(He also publicly dragged me for the green lipstick I'm wearing (it's holiday-themed!) and called it "unusual," which ... rude. But you can always tell if Heath's in a good mood if he's making fun of me rip.)

Goalkeeper Matt Lampson also had some good quotes. Asked if this victory meant more since it was against the team that traded him in January, he said, "Do you want the truth or do you want something to put in print?" He ultimately decided he'd get in too much trouble if he spoke his mind, but here is what he did say on record:

"I definitely had this day circled as soon as, on draft day basically when I found out," Lampson said. "It feels good. I will not lie. But at the same time, I'm just doing everything I can to help Minnesota United win games now. It doesn’t matter who it's against."

Lampson also started his locker room scrum saying how he finished an entire USA Today crossword (support journalism!) in the time it took Ethan Finlay to finish his interviews (Finlay is a very verbose guy, lmao. But also, so is Lampson, so he's one to talk). He also said his mom sends him the Columbus Dispatch's crossword puzzles (he's from Ohio and also support local journalism).

But what is the hardest crossword puzzle, in his experience? The Saturday New York Times ones, which he "very rarely" finishes. He said if he does finish them, it takes him days, whereas the Monday through Thursday ones he can complete in an hour or less. The Sunday version is bigger, but not necessarily harder. 

"Saturday is hard as [expletive]," Lampson said. "The times that I finish those, it’s a good day for me, and I'll let you know the next time I do that because it's been awhile. ... If I ever have to look something up, I feel defeated, and I say, 'This is [expletive], and I'm never looking at this crossword again.'"

Also, in reference to the lede of my gamer, Lampson said he asked PR guy Eric Durkee for a team scarf ahead of the game. He said he always likes to have one during the match so he can show his support for the fans.

Rewatch my Facebook Live below or click here. And enjoy some videos from Heath and Wright as well.

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