Ibson week on this Minnesota United blog continues, as coach Adrian Heath again praised the Brazilian midfielder.
This time, Heath was sharing his early pitches for United players at the MLS All-Star Game, which will be 8 p.m. Aug. 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid C.F.
"I wouldn't change [center-back Francisco] Calvo for anybody in the league. I think Christian [Ramirez] has had a really good start. And I know, is there anybody playing better than Ibson at this moment in time?" Heath said Saturday after practice. "The strange thing is, when you talk about All Stars, people will automatically think [Sebastian] Giovinco. They'll think Kaka and all these guys. I can tell you, Ibson's in that company. He's in the elite company in terms of natural ability and talent.
"And certainly playing against Real Madrid, knowing Ibso, it wouldn't faze him one little bit, and he'd want to be the best player on the field and has the ability to be as well."
Heath said despite Ibson playing the last two seasons with United in the lower-division North American Soccer League, he still appreciated the player. Because of his relationship with assistant coach Ian Fuller, who played under and coached with Heath before coming to United last season, Heath paid attention to the Loons.
"If there was nothing on, I'd watch NASL games, and I used to come back to him all the time," Heath said of Ibson. "I think it was the last game they played away at Carolina when they had to win to make the playoffs. I thought he was the best player on the field that night. So from afar, I was always an admirer of his talent. It's when you get close up, and you actually work with him every single day. You get a bit of appreciation of what his natural ability is."
So, in summary, Adrian Heath: Big fan of Ibson.
As far as the last practice Saturday ahead of United's 4 p.m. Sunday match with the LA Galaxy at TCF Bank Stadium, United had a light session out in the rain. Heath said midfielder Johan Venegas, who sat out a practice last week because of frustration, is training well and just has to wait for opportunity to come around again. And with more World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup coming up for Venegas' Costa Rica national team, "sulking won't do him any good," Heath said.