Nearly a month since his team last played, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath chatted with Loons TV voice Callum Williams in an hour’s conversation posted on the team’s web site. Here’s some of the highlights:
The Loons’ Blaine training facility is closed and players are isolating here at home while Heath and technical director Mark Watson still work the phones with agents in South America and Europe, looking to improve the roster whenever soccer (and pro sports) is played again.
“That’s the one area we’re trying to cover every eventuality, wherever we land,” Heath said. “Do we cram a full season from June on? It is going to be a half a season? We don’t really know. The one thing I do know is we have to keep this (team) moving forward. We had a really good year last year. We had a good start; the first two games were terrific for us.
“But the minute we get to the stage where we’re back to normal, I’d like to add one or two players to the group.”
This suspension of the MLS season through at least mid-May and likely longer has delayed any such moves, including the pursuit of Argentine attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso. Heath in mid-February said a deal to acquire Reynoso by transfer was “95 percent” done.
“It’s no secret we were in on it for Reynoso and that’s been put on the back burner a little bit because of all what has gone on,” Heath said. “There’s still lots of stuff going on. Mark Watson still is very very busy and active with agents in South American and Europe. We’re looking at areas that will push us to the next level.”
He said he has been in contact with his by phone and some players have gathered with each other and staff on video conferencing for weekly coffee breaks with each other.
Heath said this delay has been particularly difficult for young South Americans Luis Amarilla and Thomas Chacon. MLS has advised players to stay in their markets, but recently changed its policy to allow players to relocate by car on a case-by-case basis approved by the league.
“Although my Spanish is not bad, it’s difficult when you’re on the phone with them as we have been,” Heath said. “So we’ve been talking with them with other people.”
The team’s strength and conditioning staff has sent players workout plans for a new world where they can’t workout at the team facility and their own apartment building’s gym have been closed as well.
“Physically, they’re good,” Heath said. “We’ve had a lot of dialogue. They’re on the third program at this moment in time. They’ve been working hard. The one thing about this group, they’re a really good group to work with. Very dedicated, very professional. They get the work done.”
Heath said they’ll increase that dialogue between himself, his coaches and players to keep them all together while they’re all apart.
“The more you’re away from each other, we’ll probably start touching on the mental aspect the next week,” he said. “This is something we’ve never been through before. We’re all working our way through it, really.”
Heath called veteran midfielder and team players’ union rep Ethan Finlay the “go-between” among coaches, players and players’ union and called vet Ike Opara another “integral part” in keeping communication going until the coronavirus pandemic subsides and MLS prepares to resume again.
“It’s more than just one person’s opinion,” Heath said. “It’s not just a case of waiting for orders to come through and everybody goes ahead. There are a lot of people who will have to sit down, talk it through and come up with what’s best for everybody.”
Williams asked how he’s faring in these strange days.
“As well as can be expected, I think,” Heath said. “My glass nearly is always is half full and I’m always trying to see the positive in it. It’s a little bit difficult because we’re in unchartered waters here. This is something we’ve never been through before. I’m getting onto nearly 60 now and I’ve never seen anything like this. When you consider we’ve got what nearly 40,000 people dead (now 50,000 dead worldwide as of this afternoon) and it’s going to go up from that. We know that.
“We’re in challenging times. It has not been easy for anybody. It’s something we’re going to have to stick together with, do as we’re told and listen to people who know far more about it than we do. If we can all help each other by self-isolating and stay out of each other’s way, which I know is not easy and is difficult. But we have to beat this together and the only way we do that is by doing what we’re told.”'
For the full "Coach's Corner" interview, follow this link here to the team's website.