The self-proclaimed most important game of Minnesota United’s game ended in disappointment.
The scenes inside United’s locker room provided a stark contrast to those of the previous four home matches. Terse silence replaced blaring reggaeton. Contemplative players spoke in murmurs instead of interjecting laughs into their conversation.
The Loons were feeling the pain of their 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Both of Seattle’s goals came in stoppage time.
“[That’s the] realities of a professional sport. A lot of disappointed bodies in there. People are not happy. People say things in the heat of the moment,” explained manager Adrian Heath.
“This one has to hurt a lot, you know?” said captain Francisco Calvo.
Calvo was spotted having a heated discussion with playmaker Darwin Quintero after the final whistle. “We have a little bit of discussion over there, but it’s passion,” he explained. “I can go on talking through it with him because he’s my friend. And nothing happened. For me, for me that’s past.”
Adding to the tension of the locker room was the presence of general manager Manny Lagos, who made rounds shaking hands with players and club staff.
New designated player and forward Angelo Rodriguez made his debut, picking up the start against Seattle. Though he didn’t score in the sixty-plus minutes he played, he did hit the post once and had other chances.
“I felt good,” he said in Spanish through a translator. “In my opinion, I think I had a good game.”
Rodriguez touched the ball 29 times in his debut, according to statistics from Opta.
“You play it into his feet and he’s going to hold it off,” said midfielder Miguel Ibarra of Rodriguez’s style. “He hustles, he doesn’t let a loose ball go. I think for his first game, after not playing and coming in, he did well.”
Francisco Calvo had choice words for media members after the match, specifically surrounding the debate over whether long-time Loon Christian Ramirez or new-arrival Rodriguez should be starting. “I don’t think it’s good, because that doesn’t help the team,” Calvo said. “It’s the coach’s selection...I ask you guys, don’t do that type of comparison.”
Calvo continued to ask for positive coverage of the team. He said that local media “need to support the team” because they are from Minnesota. “Sometimes you need to write something bad because that’s what you sell: the bad things.
Speaking of that competition, Ramirez was left to the bench for the match and Heath opted to bring Abu Danladi into the game instead of Ramirez. One Twitter account, presumably Ramirez’s aunt, sent the following statement to a select group of media members and soccer personalities and later posted it publicly:
“Adrian heath has never loved Christian Ramirez. He has not respected and valued him as the star player and scorer who helped MNFC jump from NASL to MLS. He has not recognized his serious, responsible work and his permanent effort to move the team forward with his many notes. It’s a pity that Adrian Heath has forgotten all that Christian Ramirez has contributed to the team and his fans”
Minnesota is about to embark on a stretch of five straight away games, including matches against LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, D.C. United and Real Salt Lake ... Announced attendance was 24,482 and a portion of TCF Bank Stadium’s upper deck was open ... When asked about possible deals in the remainder of the MLS summer transfer window, Heath said, “Let’s hope so. I still think we could do one or two things” ... Rasmus Schuller left the game at halftime with a groin injury that will be evaluated further on Sunday
[Below: Supporters unveiled a special tifo for the match. The left banner, depicting Seattle’s Jimi Hendrix displays one of his quotes: “The next time I visit Seattle will be in a pine box,” while the right banner, bearing one of Prince’s quotes, reads “I’m never leaving...there’s a legacy here for me.”]