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Star Trib: Venegas Told to “Stay Away” from Practice, “Clear His Head”

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Coach Heath said little about the forward but it was enough to get the sense something is brewing behind the scenes.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The intrigue surrounding Johan Venegas’s absence from the starting XI last week continues to grow as news from training camp points to an attitude problem and possibly more.

The Star Tribune’s Megan Ryan reported Wednesday that Johan Venegas was missing from training. When asked about the Costa Rican international’s status, head coach Adrian Heath said the problem was on Venegas’s end.

“He's very frustrated at this moment in time, and we've told him just to stay away for a couple of days, clear his head," said Heath to the Star Tribune. "And we'll address that later in the week.”

Venegas has been a regular feature in matches this year, minus an odd place on the bench last week. While the forward did eventually sub on, it was young Abu Dunladi that took most of the minutes and notched a goal against highly ranked Sporting KC.

Conjecture

So, what the heck is going on with Venegas? It’s pretty clear from this quote and previous interviews that Heath is frustrated with a perceived lack of effort on Johan’s part. And that’s not without warrant. Even though we don’t have a window into how he acts during training throughout the week, seeing Venegas give up on a challenged ball or drop to the grass and beg for a call has become something of a regular occurrence. For someone that came from the competitive Costa Rican soccer scene, it’s not acceptable to let the game run away from you like that.

Venegas’s position is undoubtedly even weaker this week after a sterling first start performance from Dunladi. There were many reasons the staff had enough confidence to take him first overall in this year’s SuperDraft; it’s fantastic to see that move paying off with quality minutes and a goal.

Perhaps the biggest lingering question is what Heath means by saying, “...we’ll address that later this week.”

This is a whole lot of mystery on the heels of a fantastic MNUFC win over Sporting KC. They’ll need to be in the best form of their MLS career heading into Saturday if they want to stand a chance against powerhouse Toronto FC. If sitting Venegas - or leaving him home - means the club has a better chance to do that, then so be it.