Minnesota United and MLS on Friday announced three more regular-season games through September’s end that left Loons coach Adrian Heath puzzled.
The Loons will continue to play their games at Allianz Field without fans in attendance “for the foreseeable future,” the team said in a news release. It said it will “continue to monitor and evaluate the situation” with the input of government and health officials.
The next three games follow the first six “Phase 1” regular-season games that for the Loons end Sunday at Sporting Kansas City. The next three include another midweek game and two more on the road: next Saturday at Houston; Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Columbus Crew; and Sunday, Sept. 27, vs. Real Salt Lake at Allianz Field.
The Loons will travel to and from Houston on the same day for the second time in three weeks. Real Salt Lake will visit Allianz Field for the second time in this regular-season restart during which teams have paired regionally for ease of travel. Columbus Crew is the only team the Loons haven’t already played in the restart.
By the time they play Real Salt Lake again, the Loons will have played four of their first 11 regular-season games in market at home.
“A little bit bemused by it all,” Heath said. “Same opponents, three out of 10 (sic) at home, which I don’t get. Hey, I know it’s not easy. I know we’re in difficult circumstances. … It’s the same for everybody. We have to understand that. Is it ideal? No, it’s not ideal, we know that. I’m a bit bemused we can go on Saturday and it’s 106 in Dallas and then they go, ‘Tell you what, we’ll send them to Houston, where it’s only 96 degrees, on Wednesday.’ ”
More 2020 MLS regular-season games will be announced pending developments regarding travel protocols.
MLS’ playoffs expand to 18 teams in 2020: Eight of the Western Conference’s 12 team will qualify for the first round. Six of the East’s 14 teams qualify directly, and seeds 7-10 will compete in a play-in game.
Starting right back Romain Metanire will be suspended for Sunday’s game at Sporting Kansas City because of the red card he received for a sliding tackle late in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over FC Dallas.
Heath said he didn’t appeal the call after he consulted with MLS executives.
“Having looked at it again, I just think it’s two people going for the ball,” Heath said. “One gets there half a second before the other. It wasn’t malicious. The guy didn’t need treatment. He got up and jumped on, but we’ll get on with it.”
Heath’s options include putting midfielder Marlon Hairston at Metanire’s spot or moving Hassani Dotson from injured Ozzie Alonso’s defensive midfield spot to right back.
• Newcomer Bakaye Dibassy made his MLS debut Wednesday by playing the final nine minutes when his new team played with just 10 men. “It was basically backs to the wall when he came on, but we’ve watched enough of him,” Heath said. “He’s comfortable on the ball. He’s very athletic.”
• Heath said backup keeper Greg Ranjitsingh injured a knee in Wednesday’s warmup. That will leave 16-year-old Fred Emmings as backup to starter Dayne St. Clair on Sunday until the team can get a MLS pool goalkeeper in or address the situation next week for the rest of the season.