Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath played 18 professional seasons in England and Europe. He starred for Everton's memorable teams in the 1980s that won an F.A. Cup at sold-out Wembley Stadium.
But he never had the chance to do what his young midfielder Hassani Dotson might.
Dotson is one of 20 players named Thursday by the U.S. Under-23 men's national team to play in Concacaf Olympic qualifying that starts next week in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was chosen from a 28-player camp that trained in Mexico.
Eight nations, divided into two groups of four teams, will play for two qualifying spots in Tokyo this summer. The two teams that advance to semifinal matches will qualify.
"Hopefully, they'll qualify and he'll go with our blessing," Heath said Thursday in a video conference call. "It could be one of those I'd be quite jealous of. There are not a lot of things I'm jealous of people in football. But to go and play in the Olympics is something I think would be very special. I love the Olympics, and it's something I would have liked to have done myself."
The U.S. men's team hasn't qualified for the Olympics since 2008. Its first Group A game next Thursday against Costa Rica will be carried by FS1 at 3:30 p.m. Central time.
The Loons still seek to acquire a starting striker and left-side attacker to replace Kevin Molino. They have until June 1 now because of a prolonged spring transfer window. Heath said he's hopeful of securing someone by the time his team trains in Florida later this month.
"We will not bring people in just for the sake of it," Heath said. "If the right guy is not available, we'll wait and go with what we've got. I'm pleased with what we've got."
Starting where they ended
The Loons start their season April 16 right where last season ended with a Western Conference final loss at Seattle.
"Yeah, well, let's get it over with," Heath said. "Back to the scene. It's never an easy place to go, even in the best of times."
Heath was asked if he thinks fans will return for the April 24 home opener against Real Salt Lake.
"I hope so," he said. "It would be great to see fans back at Allianz because we certainly missed them last year."
Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that he will on Friday announce rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, fueling speculation that teams such as the Loons and Twins will get new guidance on spectators.
Two-time MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara has been around the Loons' Blaine facility but is not training with the team because of an undisclosed condition that has kept him from playing for a year.
"I'd like to think somewhere we'll have a resolution to this, one way or the other," Heath said. "We have to make a decision sooner where we're going."
• Young designated player Thomas Chacon remains home in Uruguay while the Loons work on loaning him to a first-division team there — not his former Danubio team — so he can play games and develop. "The most frustrating thing for everybody is we just haven't been able to get him games," Heath said.
• Newcomer Callum Montgomery was chosen by his Canadian U-23 national team to play in the same Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico as Dotson and the U.S. Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair is not on the 20-man roster. Heath said Canadian soccer officials have St. Clair aimed for their men's national team and World Cup qualifying instead. "We'd all be incredibly surprised and disappointed if he didn't make it," Heath said.
• San Jose star and Bloomington native Jackson Yueill and Dotson are two of seven midfielders chosen for the U-23 Olympic qualifying team.