Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said Monday afternoon he had to “sleep on” his roster decision ahead of Tuesday’s match at Atlanta United FC after a poor showing, particularly from the offense, this past Saturday in a 2-1 loss at Houston.
“I told [the players] as well this morning, I don’t know,” Heath said Monday. “Part of me wants to go again with that group [from the previous three matches] to give them another opportunity, and there’s part of me that thinks, no. At some point, there are people who have deserved another opportunity.”
In the end, Heath chose to switch it up, going with a 4-3-3 instead of his typical 4-2-3-1:
Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Jermaine Taylor
Collin Martin, Ibson, Collen Warner
Ethan Finlay, Kevin Molino, Abu Danladi
Bench: Patrick McLain, Ish Jome, Sam Nicholson, Jose Leiton, Miguel Ibarra, Christian Ramirez
Kallman is in for Michael Boxall, who left for national team duty along with Johan Venegas. Warner and Danladi are the other new additions to the lineup while Ibarra and Ramirez sit.
Taylor comes in for Marc Burch, who endured a hamstring injury in the Houston match. Nicholson, who said he played left wingback at his former club a handful of times, came in for the left back for the last 10 minutes of that match and scored his first goal as a Loon.
“It was great. It felt like a long time coming,” said Nicholson, who joined the club this summer from Scotland. “It was hard with the circumstances in the game. Obviously, we were getting beaten two-nil. I couldn’t really celebrate. But no, I was happy to get it.”
As far as Atlanta, it is also missing some key pieces to injury and national team duty, including leading scorer Josef Martinez, leading assister Miguel Almiron and goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The team also announced before the match that defender Greg Garza would be out for several weeks with a hamstring injury.
But Adrian Heath’s son, Harrison Heath, is in the Atlanta matchday squad. Harrison Heath dropped by United’s training Monday afternoon to say hi to his dad, who was also his former coach at Orlando. Adrian Heath said he was happy to see his kid and see him in Atlanta’s squad, though Harrison Heath was also on the team for Atlanta’s 6-1 beatdown of the Loons from back in March.
“Not sure that’s a good omen,” Adrian Heath joked.
Here is Atlanta’s full lineup: