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Three things: #MINvLA

On what should have been a showcase, the Loons are left scrambling to find a starting XI

August 14, 2021 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United midfielder Emanuel Reynoso (10) splits between LA Galaxy defender Sega Coulibaly (4) and LA Galaxy midfielder Rayan Raveloson (6) during the match at Allianz Field.
  1. We have, in the past few years, gotten to learn a bit about head coach Adrian Heath’s coaching philosophy. Believing above all else in will and effort, Heath often makes the conservative line-up choice, regardless of tactical formation. As he has said, he is hesitant to trust young players. In game, he has, as he has also said, a stronger feeling for momentum than substitutions. But most importantly after this game, he has continually insisted that the players pick the team, by which he means that he has little commitment to a preferred XI, giving a start to the players he believes to have earned it on the field in the previous game. There are, of course, many counterexamples to this. The prolonged captaincy of Francisco Calvo being the most obvious. But Brent Kallman getting the start on Saturday could be consistent with that philosophy - although with the tight run of games this week it could also have been a pre-emptive rotation of players - as could his continued preference for Hassani Dotson after Ján Greguš’ return from the Euro’s. Which is why the insistence on starting Adrien Hunou is so difficult to understand, especially in light of Juan Agudelo’s play. Patience, of course, is the immediate reply. MLS, it is argued, with the physical demands of traveling the distances required of playing in the US and Canada and the league’s physical style of play, is hard to settle into (although this weekend’s game and the level of play that Greg Vanney is getting from his new signings might ask us to question that logic). And, Robin Lod. A bit of evidence which tries to forget that Lod adjusted to the league quite quickly when he was moved to the right side of the field. It may have been a long adjustment period for Lod, but it was a tactical decision that made that adjustment possible.
  2. The news, right before kick-off, that Niko Hansen and Lod would be unavailable for the game, and that they might be out for some time, put quite a damper on the night. Playing before a national television audience, although not a local one with the continued stupidity of sports broadcasting, the game should have been a showcase for the Loons. Instead play returned, for Minnesota United’s offense, to the one-man-show of Emanuel Reynoso. Without Franco Fragapane, Hansen, or Lod, there wasn’t much to be done, but it seems in hindsight, and maybe in foresight, that Dotson on the left and Greguš in the middle of the standard 4-2-3-1 was the worst of some bad options. If there ever was a time to try something new, this was probably it. Just as Lod found his form on the right, Hunou might be able to find his form on the left. Greguš and Ozzie Alonso hasn’t been a very successful pairing this season, but maybe Dotson and Greguš in a middle three could have controlled the game a bit better than Greguš and Wil Trapp did as two. And maybe, just maybe, give the kids a chance; we might be talking about Justin McMaster today instead of Jonathan Klinsmann.
  3. But since we are talking about Klinsmann, it really was quite spectacular.