KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Adrian Heath is usually a talkative guy.
That wasn't the case after Minnesota United's 3-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. The coach was clipped and clear-cut when explaining his team's performance.
"We were second-best from the very first minute until the 90th minute. Outfought, outplayed, outrun. No desire. No enthusiasm," Heath said. "This is as bad as we've been since the second or third week of the season.
"Forget the score line, I was more disappointed with just the amount of determination that the guys showed. Poor."
For Heath, it was like his team had regressed back to the days of giving up five or more goals a match, as it did in the first two matches this inaugural season in March. But in addressing the collapse, after several weeks of slowly gaining traction, Heath and his players had the same response.
"I don't know," Heath said. "We'll find out. But I'm not putting up with that. I guarantee it."
After a first half in which Kansas City took 17 total shots to United's one, the Loons couldn't quite make it out of the first 45 minutes unscathed.
United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth's feet stayed planted on the grass while Kansas City center back Ike Opara took a rare shot on goal. The ball skipped right inside the near post with a minute left in stoppage time of the first half.
"We definitely started the game flat. I just kept thinking we were going to snap out of it," United defender Brent Kallman said. "That's probably the third or fourth time this year where we defended a lot in the first half of the game and were trying to get to halftime nil-nil. And then we give up one within the last couple minutes of the half. It takes a little bit of wind out of your sails.
"We were bending, and we didn't break and then he hits that amazing shot. So that definitely hurt a little bit."
Kansas City scored again in the 54th minute off Jimmy Medranda and in the 87th from Saad Abdul-Salaam. Kansas City (7-4-4) hasn't lost at home in 16 MLS regular-season matches, a streak that started June 19, 2016. This was also fourth consecutive shutout at home for Kansas City, culminating in 11 unanswered goals. United (4-8-2), meanwhile, has yet to win on the road.
United did endure some early adversity, when starting winger Miguel Ibarra left in the eighth minute because of a right calf strain. When midfielder Rasmus Schuller came on in his stead, it forced United out of its usual 4-2-3-1 formation and into a 4-3-3.
"We had to change the system, and it took us awhile to get incorporated with that," United's Christian Ramirez said. "We weren't really playing with a natural 10 anymore, more like a six and two eights. So that was difficult because there were spaces in behind their line of midfield that we couldn't get the ball into because we didn't have somebody there."
Heath said the quick change didn't affect his team "one iota." And United will have to figure out what went wrong pretty quickly: The Loons travel back to Kansas City on June 14 for a U.S. Open Cup match.
"Feel sorry for the two or 300 people who've made the journey down from Minnesota," Heath said of the large supporters' group contingent. "I apologize to them. They deserved an awful lot more than they got today."