The first practice after Minnesota United FC's first win, surprisingly, wasn't any different than usual.
Despite two MLS Team of the Week honors for forward Christian Ramirez and coach Adrian Heath after the 4-2 victory against Real Salt Lake this past Saturday, where Ramirez scored twice, Heath said the mood at practice Tuesday was as good as it always is, since the players are great about training hard no matter the result. Those weekly honors were the first for United this season, though defender Brent Kallman previously made the “bench” as an honorable mention after the 2-2 draw at the Colorado Rapids.
The one change might be that players can see a brighter future ahead now. And Heath himself said he is excited to see how much more can come from his attack, and the combination play from Ramirez, and midfielders Kevin Molino and Johan Venegas. On to some practice notes!
Scrimmage and absences
United played college team Creighton in a closed-door scrimmage Sunday, giving many of the Loons’ fringe players a chance to show their stuff.
“We need to get them minutes, and it’s never easy for them guys who are on the bench and just outside of the 18 not only sometimes to keep the enthusiasm to come in and play at your maximum, train at your maximum, but then to be ready mentally and physically when they get their opportunity,” Heath said. “So it was well worth it for them.”
United won the scrimmage 3-0 with goals from forward Abu Danladi, midfielder Miguel Ibarra and midfielder Ish Jome. Danladi, though, sat out practice Tuesday with a hamstring injury while defender Vadim Demidov was also absent because of illness.
“Vadim’s had the flu, and he’s not been too good for two or three days, and he’s on antibiotics,” Heath said. “Abu played [Sunday], started really well, scored a goal and then got a kick, I think, in his hamstring. We don’t think it’s too bad. Hopefully it isn’t because he’s been looking really sharp in training, and I thought he did all right when he came on [in the game Saturday], showed some energy. So the last thing he needs now is a couple weeks off.”
Trialist defender Abdoulaye Diallo also played in the scrimmage and still trained with the team Tuesday. Emergency backup goalkeeper Billy Heavner, who signed a short-term contract with United when two of the three goalkeepers were injured, is no longer with the team.
New additions left-back Marc Burch and holding midfielder Sam Cronin also practiced for the first time with the team after a transaction Friday sent them to United from Colorado. Look for a more in-depth story on those two later today online and in tomorrow's paper!
‘I said maybe’
Turns out Heath has a personal connection to United’s post-win anthem, Oasis’ “Wonderwall.”
Heath, from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Great Britain, is a native Northerner like the Manchester-based band. And when he played for Manchester City in the early 1990s, about five years before “Wonderwall” came out, Oasis’ lead singer Liam Gallagher wasn’t quite the big name he is now.
“I was very fortunate, I got to know Liam quite well,” Heath said. “They used to clean our cars, believe it or not, at Manchester City … when they were young up-and-coming pop stars.
“They’ve obviously had an incredible rise to fame from cleaning our cars.”
Can Heath get Gallagher to come to a United match and sing "Wonderwall" live after? Time will tell.