It sounds like United players will be in for quite a ride when they arrive in Arizona for preseason training on Monday. When asked on Thursday if his players would be in for two-a-day practices in preseason, the Loons’ boss responded that two practices a day would be “a minimum.”
This will be Adrian Heath’s 40th preseason as a player and a coach. And they don’t get any easier according to the former Everton attacker. “It’s hard work and it’s a lot commitment,” the manger says. But he also sees it as a very important part of the year.
It is not lost on the Englishman that United’s roster is currently looking a little scarce. “We’ve got some holes to fill, yeah,” he says, “but I think the most important thing. . .is to get the right ones in.”
Quality is currently the priority over getting in several players, but Heath jokes that he might feel differently in four weeks from now. He points out that the team does not need to be roster compliant until opening day. Until then, getting his core group of 23 or 24 players is his main priority.
In the interest of filling out more spots on the rosters, several players will be joining United for preseason on a trial basis. “A few college kids who got overlooked at smaller schools for the combine…and maybe a few guys who have been floating around USL and NASL, so there will definitely be some...who will be invited in.”
Fans will likely happy to know that Jeb (!) Brovsky of the NASL squad will get his chance as well. “We’ll give him the time he needs to get fully fit, and we’ll address it then. . . It’d be wrong of us not to give him an opportunity like the rest of them.”
Goalkeeper is obviously still a position of need for the Loons, and when asked if he had something in the works for that position, Heath said “Yeah. Hopefully we’ll be making some decisions and announcements on that in the next couple of days.”
The day before the SuperDraft, Heath hinted to Extra Time Radio that something big was in the works. On Thursday, Heath confirmed that the club were still working on it. “We’ve got down that road and we’re a lot closer than we were a week ago. Sometimes you have to wait for what you want.”
During his time in MLS, Heath has developed a reputation for developing young strikers. When asked what he likes about his current crop of forwards, Heath says that his strikers have “got a bit of everything.”
Christian Ramirez, in particular, was the subject of special praise from his manager. “You look at Christian’s goal record, and that’s not a coincidence. Goalscorers have that knack. I bet Christian was the highest scorer on every team he ever played on.”
However, Heath points out that there is always room to improve. “Christian is bigger, physically. He’s got to improve with his back to goal…we’ve already spoken about that.”He has already began looking to where first overall pick Abu Danladi can get better as well. “Abu is very very quick, likes to run in behind. Can we time his runs better?”
While he relishes working with the players, Heath downplays his importance in their development. “I get a lot of praise for [developing Cyle Larin]…but without [the player] wanting to work, wanting to get better, that doesn’t happen. It’s down to the individual.”
Finally, Heath was asked what his goals were for the club as they step into the league. He acknowledges that any ownership group in the league is going to demand to see progress in the team from year to you.
“[The] most important thing is we stick to whatever the plan is,” Heath says. But if the club sticks with their vision, the manager expects big things.
“If we allow this process to go straight through, I expect us to be capable in three years’ time of challenging at the top of this division.”