Check out the full recap of Minnesota United's 4-0 loss Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup here. Now here's some further thoughts from United coach Adrian Heath.
As far as the 5-3-2 formation, filled with mostly bench players, Heath said the team worked a lot on that shape ahead of the match, thinking it would slow down Kansas City's high-octane style. And for the first 40 minutes, Heath said the lineup, which he didn't think he'd ever used before, worked well.
"The issue that we had, we just couldn't physically sustain the energy that we needed to make it difficult for them," Heath said. "To be fair, in the end, they were worthy winners, and we looked very, very tired, which considering the lack of matches and the lack of minutes that most of the players have had, was going to happen.
"But rightly or wrongly, I prioritized our game at Salt Lake at the weekend."
While Kansas City fielded a very strong lineup, Heath chose to save his starters for the Major League Soccer match just three days from now. Heath said just looking at his bench compared to Kansas City's showed a stark disparity in depth.
"The fact that we've got three or four internationals away, we just cannot afford it at this moment in time and hope to compete against one of the best teams in MLS," Heath said. "We just aren't capable of doing it at this moment."
Being that United is in its inaugural season as an expansion franchise and doesn't have a United Soccer League affiliate to help its non-starters gain match fitness, it's not a surprise the reserve players found it hard to keep up with a full-strength Kansas City squad.
United incurred more drama in the second half when center-back Joe Greenspan was strapped down and stretchered off the pitch after colliding with Kansas City's Roger Espinoza. Greenspan had a concussion earlier this season before a successful loan stint at the USL's Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but this appeared to be a neck injury. Heath said he wouldn't have a more detailed update on the injury until probably Thursday morning, but the defender did go straight to the hospital.
Heath also commented on starting third-choice goalkeeper Patrick McLain instead of second-choice keeper John Alvbage. With Alvbage's loan from Swedish club IFK Goteborg done July 15 unless United exercises the option to extend it, the club needs to figure out if McLain can move up the pecking order.
"We've got to see what Patrick's about. We've got decisions to make in June with John, and we need to find out whether we think Patrick can be the backup to Bobby [Shuttleworth]," Heath said. "And I thought he did some decent stuff tonight."
Heath said McLain made some good saves early in the match and was positioned well but made a mistake on the first goal, a corner kick header from Ike Opara, when the goalkeeper should have let his defenders handle it.