Minnesota United FC practiced on grass for the first time all season today while they endured the humidity outdoors. Their newly renovated training center at the National Sports Center in Blaine is truly a sight to see, along with these new grass fields designed specifically for the team. To start practice, Marc Burch and Jerome Theisson were sidelined and working separately from thee group whereas Matthew Lampson was working by himself away from the other goalkeepers. The team was also joined by two college players/trialists, a goalkeeper and a midfielder.
Head Coach Adrian Heath spoke highly of the new training ground saying “It’s been a terrific morning and we’ve waited a while for it but it’s nice to get on the training field and I think you saw the quality of the training; it was excellent. Hopefully we can take that into Saturday because it’s a big game for us at home” When asked about the Open Cup draw with FC Cincinnati this morning Adrian had to say “I know from my time in USL what the Open Cup meant for us, so I know they’ll take it incredibly serious and we’ll have to play well to get a result because it’s a tough competition.” When asked about the status of Jerome Thiesson he stated that he was “day to day, although we expect him to be ready for Saturday.” Heath also went on to elaborate on how important three points will be this Saturday as the club faces a tough away stretch in the coming weeks.
I also spoke to Abu Danladi on his progress in return from injury as well as his future going forward along with his relationship with Adrian Heath and Darwin Quintero. When asked about his progress after featuring against SKC last weekend in his first minutes in over a month, Danladi had to say: “I’m back playing now and i’m really excited, I’m ready to get going and start scoring goals” I also brought up the goal that he had scored against Montreal last year and how he feels going into the matchup this year. “It was a fun game and a memorable goal but they are a team who moves the ball really well and it will be tough. Piatti is a very good player and he will be tough to stop but we are up for the challenge. I am ready to go and I am looking forward to it whether I start or come off the bench.” When asked about his relationship with Adrian Heath he had to say that “He is a great coach and he used to play himself so he knows what he is doing. He is always telling me to get into the box and move to get in between the defenders and that’s what I have been doing and what I am working to improve on; it’s a work in progress but he has been really really helpful with my growth as a striker in this league. Abu also answered on his relationship with Darwin Quintero and he talked about how much he has changed the attacking role of a striker on the team. “He is an incredible player you know, he knows a lot about the game. The way he moves the ball draws defenders and allows forwards to move into space for goal-scoring opportunities. He knows where you are all the time and he can tell where you are going to be without actually looking at you.” Finally Abu went on to end with talking about returning to the pitch. “Injuries happen and how you deal with it is the most important part, i”m trying to forget about what happened and return better than before. I miss playing with my teammates and I miss playing on the field so that is what motivates me to get back to playing.” Here is a quick glimpse of the stunner he scored last year in Montreal, courtesy of the Pioneer Press’ Andy Greder.
Lastly I also spoke to Rasmus Schuller about his 2018 season and how he has adapted to MLS this year in comparison to last year along with an update on the knock he received last weekend against SKC. When asked about the head injury he had to say “everything is good, we did concussion protocol this week and everything is good for Saturday. I will be able to play and I will be good to go.” He also mentioned how his partnership with Ibson has let him grow and how Ibson has created a midfield where he fits in. “My relationship with him is good, the same as with Collin, I enjoy playing with both of them.” I then asked him about his loan back to Finland and how it helped him grow for 2018. “Finland is home to me, I went back to the club that was my home so that was just me getting fit and getting back to playing. That was the main part of it to be ready for this season. I didn’t have the same good preseason as 2017 as 2018 so I think that was a big reason part of why I didn’t perform on the pitch as good as this year.” He also elaborated on Ibson, with a particular quote I truly enjoyed hearing “Ibson doesn’t have to do anything special, Ibson being Ibson helps everybody on the team.”
Lastly, to end, a little update on the Lamar hunt U.S. Open Cup draw. Minnesota United drew FC Cincinnati at home, and the match will be played on either June 5th or 6th. FCC will have a recognizable face to Loons fans, with former Loon Lance Laing on the roster. For once, it’s not SKC guys!