KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Like a harbinger of doom, another meeting with Sporting Kansas City at the club’s fortress of a stadium looms for Minnesota United.
Not the most encouraging news for the Loons, whom Kansas City thoroughly dominated in a 3-0 victory Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park. United coach Adrian Heath called his team “poor in all departments” and “never at the races from the very first whistle.”
A possible bright spot is the rematch isn’t until June 14 in the U.S. Open Cup, a competition that pits all levels of soccer in the United States against each other. That gives the team 10 days, including an off weekend from Major League Soccer play, to reevaluate.
United is giving its players the next few days off. That will give some of the injured — such as rookie forward Abu Danladi and midfielder Miguel Ibarra, both starters — extra time to recover.
But once the team does come back to practice Thursday, the intensity level will surely ramp up.
“We did not win our individual battles all over the field. I think that cost us really bad [Saturday],” defender Brent Kallman said. “I’m thinking we get back, and we start training, we’ve got to go really hard at each other because those are really important in the game. Those can decide the game. And it felt like we lost almost every single one [Saturday].”
United, though, will be without even more players on June 14. Center back Francisco Calvo and midfielder Johan Venegas, who missed the match Saturday, will still be on national team duty with Costa Rica. Same with midfielder Kevin Molino for Trinidad and Tobago and center back Jermaine Taylor for Jamaica.
However, Heath has said he plans to field mostly non-starters and players without much playing time in this first Open Cup match, as many MLS teams do in the early rounds of the tournament. So United might not miss those absences as much as it did Saturday, without Calvo, Venegas and suspended midfielder Sam Cronin.
Five little-used Loons played Saturday and didn’t do much to provide a spark. But the likes of center back Joe Greenspan, midfielder Collin Martin and right back Kevin Venegas are still waiting for their break.
“We’re going to need all these guys,” Heath said Thursday. “And I told them this two weeks ago, the next three or four weeks for them are really important in terms of their commitment levels Monday to Friday to make sure that when their opportunity comes around, they’re at their maximum.”