Just as he did Friday when teammate Francisco Calvo handed him the captain’s armband late in a loss at Toronto, Loons veteran midfielder Ozzie Alonso was the team captain Wednesday night. This time it was for the entire game against L.A. Galaxy at Allianz Field, a game that ended in a 0-0 draw.
Calvo, the captain in Minnesota United’s first seven games, was suspended Wednesday for what coach Adrian Heath called a “silly” swipe at a Toronto player’s legs late in the game. His second yellow card that night earned him a red card and an ejection after the Loons squandered a late 3-2 lead in a 4-3 loss.
Midfielder Jan Gregus also was serving a one-game suspension for a red card. Partly because of those two being out, Heath shook up his starting lineup.
Alonso, a four-time MLS All-Star, also served as captain in his last of 10 seasons in Seattle.
“Ozzie is Ozzie,” veteran teammate Ike Opara said. “You don’t question Ozzie. You don’t question his work. He’s going to give 110 for 90 minutes. That’s a leader-by-example right there. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Said Heath: “Captains are important in clubs for different reasons. There are different types of captains. There are captains who are very vocal. There are captains who lead by example. People like Ozzie, who was captain for them when he was at Seattle, he doesn’t say an awful lot. But what he does, he means it and it resonates with people when he speaks.”
Molino gets start at last
Veteran midfielder Kevin Molino, a Heath favorite, made his first start Wednesday in his comeback from knee surgery early last season. He made a brief season debut at Toronto.
“I feel good now, we’ll see tomorrow,” Molino said. “The fans make me feel good and want to play.”
Said Heath: “He has looked great in training. We’ve probably left him a week, 10 days more than we would have liked. But he’s got an opportunity now with three games in 10 days.”
Waiting for his chance
A Loon for the first time in 2011, Miguel Ibarra was a second-half substitute for his first Allianz Field game after he could only watch the home opener because of a hamstring injury.
“It was amazing,” said Ibarra, who entered in the 61st minute for Molino. “Once you’re in there, it’s freaking loud. You can’t hear anything. It’s amazing.”
• Opara wore a protective headband in his return after he banged heads and received a seven-stitch gash over one eye in the stadium opener. “If it’s going to protect my health, I’ll do anything,” he said. “If I need to wear it all year, I’ll wear it. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
• Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s slide dug up a big chunk of turf in the first half. He picked up the pieces and threw them at the hole.