Under variable clouds and a cold spring wind, Minnesota United on Tuesday trained at Allianz Field for the first time this season. That's four days before the Loons play their home opener against Real Salt Lake before an expected 4,100 fans, the first to see them play there since October 2019.
They played before about 7,000 fans on Friday during a 4-0 season-opening loss at Seattle.
"I enjoyed being back in the stadium," Loons coach Adrian Heath said after his players mostly scrimmaged there Tuesday. "We're all excited about coming back here at the weekend with some fans in the stadium, which is going to be nice. We spoke about the 7,000 in Seattle and what a difference it made. It was just great to see."
Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders limit local pro sports teams to play to 25% capacity at their arena or stadium. Social-distancing guidelines will limit Allianz Field's 19,000 capacity to fewer than that — those 4,100 fans for now.
"It's always fun to train at the stadium," Loons midfielder Ethan Finlay said. "It's where we get to go and do some of the beautiful stuff we enjoy doing between these lines. Yes, there weren't fans there. We were thinking about what we're going to be doing on those places when we're on the field come Saturday."
Newly acquired Ramon Abila trained individually at the club's Blaine facility while teammates scrimmaged at Allianz.
"We've got him on a personal plan," Heath said. "Obviously, he's not played a lot of football. We feel as though we don't want to put him in the group in big situations where he's prone to maybe pulling something. So he's got his own plan and we'll see where we are, see where his fitness is the rest of the week."
Abila was a second-half substitute in his MLS debut at Seattle.
"We'll see how he feels," Heath said when asked if Abila will play the same role Saturday. "I'll have a little think about it myself. Sometimes it's better to start than come off the bench. We've got all that way to sort and see where his fitness is in the next couple days."
Dibassy on the mend
Starting center back Bakaye Dibassy trained on the side at Allianz Field on Tuesday. He remains what Heath calls day to day with a thigh injury that sidelined him Friday in Seattle. Brent Kallman started in his place.
"He's a little bit further along than we probably thought," Heath said. "Whether it becomes too quickly for him this weekend, we'll see. He is a little bit better this week than he was last week."
Sidelined defender Ike Opara was on the club's opening-day roster Friday but hasn't been training with the team. He didn't attend Tuesday's sessions at Allianz Field.
A two-time MLS Defender of the Year who has a history of concussions, Opara hasn't played a game since last season's first two. The Loons could have had Opara's salary removed from their salary budget charge if the two sides had reached a contract settlement before Friday's opener. There still is a possibility they can do so.
"We monitor that situation every single day, the health and welfare of the player is the most important thing to us," Loons CEO Chris Wright said. "So much of the decision when he might be healthy and resume training and play really is in his hands. Our staff works with him and we hope sometime this season he is able to come back to the squad and make a contribution to the team."