One game away from a late-season collapse for the ages, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath is one of only two active coaches who has reached the MLS playoffs the past four seasons after Sunday's 2-0 Decision Day victory over Vancouver.

The other is Philadelphia's Jim Curtin.

Heath received hugs and pats on the back from team CEO Shari Ballard in the Loons locker room afterward. The congratulations came on a pressure-packed afternoon when Heath seemed more energized than usual.

"I'm always fired up, I love this job I got," Heath said. "I love working here. Today was really important for me. I wanted to keep this [playoff] run going and as I've said, I would love this to be my last job and the only way this is going to be my last job is if we keep being successful. Today is another step in that direction."

Heath, 61, signed a new two-year contract during the season intended to keep him coaching the team through 2024.

"People think making the playoffs is easy — it's not," he said. "Look at the teams that have not made the playoffs this year. Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta. You keep going. These are storied franchises that spend fortunes of money. It's not easy, and we shouldn't take it for granted, but the players can take a lot of pride in what we've done. Four years on the trot, it's only a couple of teams that have done it."

Heath is the only coach the Loons have had in their six MLS seasons.

"I said after the first couple years we'll see where we are now," Heath said. "I honestly believe we can be a playoff team consistently. That has to be the aim. Now we have to hopefully get into that fourth post and get a couple playoff games at home. Here, I feel we can beat anyone."

Lod returns

Versatile veteran Robin Lod started for suspended Kervin Arriaga in the midfield alongside Wil Trapp and played 74 minutes before he was subbed out for young Joseph Rosales.

Lod didn't train with the team during the week until Friday, but returned after missing two games and international duty with Finland because of a calf injury.

"Robin's on a stretcher back there, he's that tired," Heath said, possibly exaggerating a touch. "He hasn't done an awful lot for three, four weeks and to put in the shift he has done, he gives us that composure and physical presence in the middle of the pitch."

Shutting them out

The 2-0 shutout of the Whitecaps was the first completed by goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and the Loons since a 2-0 victory over D.C. United on July 16.

Heath explained it simply: "The back four was excellent, just excellent winning the first ball," he said.

St. Clair stopped all seven shots that he faced on target, including a dandy that preserved the shutout in the 82nd minute.

"It definitely has been a long time," St. Clair said of the shutout drought. "Having five clean sheets for the season for someone of our standards isn't good enough. It's something we're going to need to build on going into next year. But to have this moment in this game when it mattered shows defense is going to be important going into these playoff games."