Loons’ man-advantage struggles ‘a matter of discipline,’ Heath says


Upon further review, call it too little discipline or too much excitement when Minnesota United struggles to exploit a man advantage.

The Loons have played with an extra man three times this season and haven’t won once. In last Sunday’s 3-1 home loss to Colorado, the Rapids scored three unanswered goals when they played a man short the final 35-plus minutes after the Loons scored in the eighth minute and then not again.

“This is not something we haven’t spoken about,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “It’s a matter of discipline, really. For the right reasons, guys are trying to make things happen. …When the other team goes to 10 men, the area of the field that really hasn’t changed is where you think you’ve got to be playing all the time.

“If they were playing a 5-3-2, they now might go 5-3-1. You’ve just got more room in different areas and we haven’t done a good job managing that.”

Defensive midfielder Wil Trapp and center-back Michael Boxall each watched Sunday from afar, Trapp from a Minneapolis hospital room and Boxall up late in Bahrain.

“We lost discipline, especially going forward,” Boxall said. “We were in such a hurry to put the game away, we lost our shape and guys maybe we’re trying to do too much, going forward too much and we left ourselves exposed. On the other side, maybe we were too aggressive going forward, but too passive going back.”

Trapp called his team too excitable last Sunday.

“I think it’s a case of a little overexuberance,” said Trapp, who didn’t play because his second son was born hours before kickoff. “Thinking ‘OK, we’re up a man and now we’re just going to score.’ A team like Colorado is great on the counterattack. They almost want you to come out of your shell. For us, it’s being a little more patient and understanding.”

Lod, Metanire return

Story continues

Loons starters Boxall, Robin Lod and Romain Metanire returned to the starting 11 Saturday at Austin FC after they returned from World Cup qualifiers or international friendlies everywhere from Bahrain or Kazakhstan to across Africa.

Boxall and Metanire returned to anchor the right side of the back line after Brent Kallman and D.J. Taylor started there last week. Chase Gasper and Bakaye Dibassy again started on the left side Saturday.

Boxall reunited with his New Zealand team after injury kept him from playing with it in Tokyo in July.

“Obviously, the Olympics was a tough one,” said Boxall, whose team beat Curacao and Bahrain in friendlies. “Then due to COVID, it has been two years since we got together as a national team. I always love giving my all for my national team. This was no different.”

Trapp stays home

New daddy Trapp remained in Minnesota and did not accompany the team to Texas because of what the team called “family reasons.”

Veteran Ozzie Alonso and Hassani Dotson started in the defensive midfield while Lod returned to his right-side attacking spot and Adrien Hunou started as the striker up top. Franco Fragapane and Emanuel Reynoso played beside Lod in the 4-3-2-1 formation that Heath prefers.

What’s in a name?

Trapp watched Sunday’s home game from not far away. “I was screaming in the hospital room,” he said.

Trapp and his wife, Beth, now have newborn Charles (Charlie) to go with 2-year-old Theodore (Theo).

“We like those regal names,” Trapp said. “Being a dad is one thing. Being a dad of two boys? Like, that’s me? That’s a big step. Family of four? We’re very blessed. It’s the boys now. I’m not sure I’ll get used to that too quickly.”

The Star Tribune did not travel for this event. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the event.



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