Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
TORONTO — Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath doesn't want his Major League Soccer expansion franchise to develop a reputation as a "really good loser." That hang-tough takeaway was a low-hanging fruit ripe for picking Saturday after Minnesota lost 3-2 to MLS heavyweight Toronto at BMO Field in Toronto. Against the Eastern Conference-leading Reds, Minnesota midfielder Kevin Molino scored a pair of second-half equalizers to threaten Toronto's club-record winning streak well into the match's final 20 minutes.
MINNEAPOLIS — Veteran midfielder Sam Cronin put rookie striker Abu Danladi in a headlock at midfield after Minnesota United beat Kansas City 2-0 on Sunday. Cronin was ribbing Danladi for his lack of a unique celebration after netting his first career Major League Soccer goal in the upset victory at TCF Bank Stadium. Danladi, who hails from Ghana, had a African dance prepared, but the first pick in the MLS collegiate draft was too excited in the moment. Instead, he embraced Miguel Ibarra, whose pass put the ball at Danladi's feet.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United's Johan Venegas allowed frustration over his lackluster play in recent games affect his level of training this week. He scowled as he walked off the practice field Tuesday, May 9, and was told to stay away to clear his head during Wednesday's session. "He's not been happy with the way he's played, and I thought that manifested itself in his training," United coach Adrian Heath said.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota United began its inaugural Major League Soccer season ranked among the league's worst teams. Sports Illustrated, mlssoccer.com, goal.com and ESPN all had Minnesota at 21 or 22 in the MLS power rankings. But on ESPN's list released Monday, Minnesota had moved up to 17 among the league's 22 clubs, and analyst Herculez Gomez was asked in an on-air segment which team in the 16-22 range could be a lot higher later this year.
MINNEAPOLIS — The fall of one Minnesota United center back — coupled with the rise of another — has overshadowed the increasingly steady performances of Loons defender Francisco Calvo this season. After the Major League Soccer expansion franchise's defense showed seismic faults at the start of its debut campaign, club captain and highest-paid player Vadim Demidov was benched, while Woodbury native Brent Kallman, who earns a salary near the league minimum, has performed well above his pay grade in earning a starting role.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said the club is doing its due diligence before Major League Soccer's primary transfer window closes Monday, May 8, but no moves appear imminent. After Tuesday's training session, Heath said the Loons and other clubs have been exchanging phone calls to gauge interest and answer questions on players over the past few days. Once the window closes, MLS clubs are no longer able to sign players under contract in another country.
MINNEAPOLIS — NFL Draft pundits were waiting to see how fast ex-Gophers cornerback Jalen Myrick ran a 40-yard dash in the scouting combine in March before penciling him into their mock drafts. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller was among the skeptics. "I liked his instincts. I like his toughness," he told the Pioneer Press in December. "The thing that I'm holding out for is that true athleticism and seeing his hips at the combine and how fast is he going to run."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United rookie forward Abu Danladi remains healthy and continues to state his case for more playing time. Danladi, the first overall pick in Major League Soccer's collegiate draft in January, didn't play in the Loons' MLS debut in Portland, nor its home opener against Atlanta in early March. But after the back spasms that sidelined him in preseason and the opening regular-season games subsided, the 21-year-old Ghana native has come on as a second-half sub for Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS — While Minnesota United ended its five-game skid of conceding early goals on Saturday, the Loons restarted another bad trend in the 2-0 loss at Dallas. When FC Dallas, an MLS Cup favorite, scored in the 43rd minute, it broke the 17th-minute threshold in which all previous Major League Soccer opponents had scored on the Loons (1-4-1).
MINNEAPOLIS — When the Gophers split into groups for individual drills in spring practices, most positions have platoons of players to run through tailored movements. But for the new rush ends, there's a small but intriguing threesome: Carter Coughlin, Tai'yon Devers and Trenton Guthrie. One player gets a rep at the defensive end spot, another will play tackle or tight end to simulate a play and the other will play running back. No one rotates in.