In the season's second game Saturday, Minnesota United meets a San Jose team unlike any it will play again because of new coach Matias Almeyda's pressing, man-to-man system.
"It's a bit different than anything I've been through before," Loons coach Adrian Heath said. "It's strange. It lulls you into a false sense of security because you have the ball in so many strange areas and the transitions are so important. … But you do know if one man beats his man, then it does throw them a little bit. It's like a set of cards: One goes and the others are set to follow. "
Heath and his coaches consulted star Darwin Quintero, who played against Almeyda's teams in Mexico's Liga MX.
"We've spoken long and hard about it," Heath said.
United defender Ike Opara returns Saturday to San Jose, where he began his MLS career in 2010. Opara's remaining connection is Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski, the only player left from his time there.
"That will be the only excitement, to get to kick him once or twice," Opara said. "Other than that, no, that's long gone in the past."
Heath and United managing director Bill McGuire toured new Allianz Field early Wednesday morning, discussing details of what Heath calls a "magnificent" new home that will open April 13 against New York City FC.
"Get that snow off it the next couple weeks and we'll be ready to go," Heath said. "We're excited, but we have four more games before that. Hopefully, more points to pick up and go into that stadium and give our supporters a proper performance."
Seems like first time
United second-round pick Hassani Dotson became the team's first draft pick selected outside the first round to play for it when he played the final couple of minutes of last Saturday's opener at Vancouver.
"It goes along with everything: First time playing soccer, first time playing academy, first time playing college and then first time playing professional, which is the goal," he said. "But now keep trying to get the next first."
Which is? "We'll see," he said. "We'll see."