Training at Allianz Field

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Training Quotes | #MINvRSL - Star Tribune

HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH
On how good it was to be back on the field at Allianz Field …

“Terrific. Real buzz about the group. Enjoyed being back in the stadium. Obviously, pitch is magnificent. We’re all excited about coming back here at the weekend. Starting the season. Some fans in the stadium, which is going to be nice. We spoke about the 7,000 or whatever it was in the stadium at Seattle and what a difference it made. It was just great to see. I thought it was quite emotional actually, seeing people back in and what it meant. Not only to the players, but certainly to the people back in the stadium. You could see how excited they were, and I expect the same at our place on Saturday.”


On how nice it is to have the home opener at Allianz Field this weekend coming off the heels of what happened in the season opener at Seattle, and not dwelling too much but looking forward …

“Yes, you know, it’s strange because I watched the game back and for an hour, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the group. [Seattle] scored a ‘goal of the season’ contender. And then the fourth one goes in where Romain [Metanire], he’s not even, he’s on the ground. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to being back here. We’ve done terrifically. Our form at home has been expectational at times and we need to continue that. Because at the end of the day, within this league, we know home form goes a long, long way to where you eventually finish.”


On the emotion of being back in Allianz Field this weekend, but also the emotion coming off last week’s loss in proving that result is not to define this team …

“Well, for one game, I think that would be a bit harsh. Let’s see where we are in a few weeks when we’ve all settled down. It’s opening day of the season and there’s an awful lot to play for. It’s nice to get home, for sure. We’ve got a couple of home games to look forward to. And we should look forward to them because we do play particularly well here. But, no, I don’t feel as though there’s any extra pressure. The pressure will come in four or five weeks if we’re still in this spot. But after one game? No. I want the players to be positive on what they’ve achieved in preseason. What they achieved for an hour. We’re not going to gloss over the fact that I thought a couple of the goals were poor from our point of view. Poor defensively. That’s something we’ve spoke about. But no, I’m excited about the home opener. Enthusiastic about what we can become this year.”


On what defensive issues he saw on the field against Seattle …

“I don’t think they [Seattle] had to work hard enough to score the goals. When people are side footing it in from four, five yards out with none of our bodies around them, then there’s something wrong. And there was no pressure on the ball. We should drop. Try to play offside. I think for the third one, when there’s no pressure on the ball, recipe for disaster. We spoke about it. We’ll work on it. But we can’t make them mistakes. Normally, you are going to get punished. But, especially, if it’s [Raul] Ruidiaz, the likes of Cristian Roldan, who I thought was really, really good on the night. Then, if you give people time and space and there’s no pressure on the ball, invariably, it’ll end up in the back of the net and that’s what happened for them. Two goals.”


On Ramon Abila training in Blaine while the team was at Allianz Field …

“He’s working. We’ve got him on a personal plan. Obviously, he’s not played a lot of football. We feel as though we don’t want to put him in with the group in big situations where he’s prone to maybe pulling something. He’s got his own plan and we’ll see where we are, we’ll see where his fitness is come the end of the week.”


On if he thinks he’ll use Ramon Abila in the same situation this week as he did against Seattle …

“We’ll see. We will see. We’ll see how he feels and I’ll have a little thing about it myself. You know, sometimes it’s better to start than come off the bench. We’ve got all stuff to sort of weigh and see where his fitness is in the next couple of days.”


On what impact 4,100 fans can make in the stadium on Saturday night …

“Well, generally, the atmosphere is terrific in this place. And I’m sure the people who are fortunate enough to come will make up for the ones that can’t come. That’s what we’re hoping for, anyway.”


On what went into the decision making behind playing Hassani Dotson as a winger against Seattle …

“Well, he can play anywhere on the field. I thought, like the rest of the group, I thought Hassani [Dotson] was very good the first half. As I’ve always said, he gets a really good feel for the game. I wouldn’t class him as a left winger, I would class him as a midfield player. Now obviously on the road, we knew they were going to play three in the center of midfield. We made him tuck in there. And, as I say, for the first, certainly, first hour, I thought there was nothing wrong with our shape. But obviously, as we started then to sort of chase the game, and we started to put people out and try and get more forward players on, we decided to make them little changes. I would do it again, because we’ve said about it before, goals change games. Up until that wonder goal, the first one, we were by far and away the better team. So we felt as though it worked. Will we use it again? We’ll see.”


On Real Salt Lake not having a game in week one and the lack of 2021 season film to study leading up to the game …

“We got what we’ve been able to get from preseason. But it’s never the same. I think it would have been nice to have watched them play a meaningful game and seen their shape and see the way that they’re performing. And see their patterns with and without the ball. So we’ll have to wait and see. But, hey, at the end of the day, it’s what we do. We always respect the opposition. We don’t fear them. We give them the respect that they deserve. They’re always competitive. They always have a really good go, I always feel, Salt Lake. The games against them are traditionally tight, and I don’t expect any different. But I’m more concerned with the way we play.”


On Real Salt Lake’s new striker Bobby Wood, and how to prepare for a striker who has never played in MLS but has had success in Europe …

“Well, you know, Bobby [Wood] has got certain qualities. He’s got decent movement. He’s quick. At one stage, he was doing exceptionally well. He started really well in Germany. No, we’ll give him the respect that he deserves. You don’t play in the big leagues of Europe if you’ve not got quality. And I know that if we give him time, we give him space and we give him the opportunity, he will take them. So it’s something that we’ll speak about later on the week. But whether it’s Bobby [Wood], whether it’s [Damir] Kreilach, whether it be [Albert] Rusnák. You can go through: They’ve got quality pieces in attacking space and attacking positions. We give them too much time and room, invariably, they’ll hurt you.”


On Bakaye Dibassy’s status …

“It’s day-to-day, really. He’s a little bit further on than what we probably thought. Whether it becomes too quickly for him this weekend, we’ll wait to see. But he is a little bit better this week than he certainly was last week.”


On any update on the two signings the club has been anticipating …

“No. Ongoing. Ongoing. As I said, we’re hopeful. Obviously, I’ll leave that to all the people enough to sort of concern myself with the group getting prepared. But they are ongoing. As I said before, I would be really dissapointed if we don’t get them over the line. I think I said 10 days last week, so, hopefully in the next few days we’ll have more news for you.”


MIDFIELDER ROBIN LOD
On feeling the difference of playing in front of fans in Seattle having fans at home this weekend…

"Yeah, of course. Always nice to play in front of the fans. I think it is a huge thing, it brings the soccer to everybody and that's why we play, the fans are on the stands so... It's a huge factor and I'm looking forward to Saturday because to get our fans in the stands and get to play in front of them is always a proud thing and it's amazing."


On how nice it is to have the home opener at Allianz Field this weekend coming off the heels of what happened in the season opener at Seattle, and not dwelling too much but looking forward …

"Yeah of course, I think everybody wants to forget what happened in the second half in Seattle and I think everybody's just looking forward to play this game with the fans, first time in a year, so I think it's a good thing for sure."


On what position he feels most comfortable playing on the pitch…

"I mean, it's always, for me, to be able to help the team as best as I can. It doesn't matter which position I play, I'm just happy to be there, that the coaches and the team sees me give the most in a practical game, so I'm just happy to be there on the field and help the team."


On how he saw the last 20 minutes in the context of the first 70 in Seattle…

"Mostly we looked at the first half. I think we played well and we created some chances. It's just the small things that change the game, is the goal. Of course we made a few mistakes and the opponent did well and scored their chances and we didn't score our chances. So I think there's a lot of good things to bring from the first game, but that doesn't say that we have a lot of things we need to correct in defensive ways. I think a little bit of both but mainly try to take the things from the first game, it was the first game of the season, the season is long, so there's plenty of room to add up."


On Real Salt Lake not having a game in week one and the lack of 2021 season film to study leading up to the game …

"I think it goes a little bit of both ways. I mean, for sure they are excited to play their first game and there might be some nerves coming in the first game and they're excited, don't focus on the small things. I think now we get the first game already, so we can play maybe a little bit more freely and just enjoy playing in the game, so I think it goes a little bit of both ways."


On the state of the grass at Allianz Field…

"It's amazing, it just brings your happiness to be even walk there because it's absolutely amazing at the moment, so I'm really looking forward to playing there. Yeah, it's really good."


MIDFIELDER ETHAN FINLAY
On the energy of the team heading into the home opener and higher expectations…

“2020 was a pretty crazy year, there was ups and downs in the world and obviously, within our club. As we look into ’21, there’s a lot of exciting things. If you think about some of the acquisitions that we’ve made this year, if you think about the players that we’ve brought back, there’s a lot of exciting pieces and you want to continue to get better every year. If you look all the way back to 2017, I think we’ve gotten better every single year, on and off the pitch. That would be the goal for ’21. We’ve talked a lot about raising a trophy and somewhat disappointing news about Open Cup because this is a group that looks to compete in many competitions, but we’ll see what happens later in the summer, later in the year. We gotta be focused on the season and that week two with Salt Lake now.”


On the choice to wear armbands in honor of the fight for racial justice and any plans for this weekend…

“Nothing that I’m going to speak of right now, but what I’ll say is as players … as difficult as 2020 was, we know 2021 will have its obstacles, we’ve seen it already right here in our city. This group is doing its best to try and stay focused on soccer but at the same time, we have to understand what’s happening in our city, what’s happening around the city with our fans – they’re an extremely important stakeholder in this organization. The players and the organization is conscious of that stuff. We’re trying to find the balance of going out there, winning games and competing and representing our fans in the best way possible, but also being conscious of what’s going on in the world around us. That balance can be tough at times but I thought the way the two teams were able to come together in short order the other night, spoke volumes of what maybe the power of sports can do to help heal in this tough and troubling time.”


On the 7,000 fans in Seattle and the excitement to having fans back in Allianz Field since 2019…

“It was really exciting. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t super excited even though it wasn’t our fans. It was great to see people in the stands, to hear what real cheers and real jeers sound like again. It’s one of the reasons we play this sport. Not that last year wasn’t a good experience, or even a fair and balanced experience, but there’s something about competing in front of your home fans or going to an away stadium and having the team boo you and having that feeling of ‘Hey, it’s just us. It’s just the guys in blue tonight. Just the guys in grey tonight.’ Whatever we’re wearing that night. I personally like that: that mentality and I rally behind that. When we come right out on this field, 45 minutes before the game, and the place is filled with 17,000 people already, an hour before the game, that’s fun. That’s exciting. That’s what makes most of these guys in this locker room go. It really does. The opportunity to compete in front of your friends and your family and the people that support you, that’s the real privilege that we have. I’m excited, I know it will only be a couple thousand here right off the bat, but I think based off how loud they’ve been in the past, they’ll be cheering extra hard for everyone who can’t be there.”


On if the limited number of fans they’ve played in front of made an impact on the game…

“I don’t know if they make an impact on the game but I’ll say this: I remember [FC] Cincinnati, two years ago when we played here and that scoreline probably doesn’t get to what it’s at if the crowd isn’t into the game. And that’s not to say the players aren’t capable but in those moments, fans can generate, they can sense it. And players then sense it and they feed off of crowds and when crowds kind of feel like ‘Hey, we’re all over this team. This team is playing well,’ they get excited on every little moment, and that kind of stuff fuels guys. You hear that and you hear energy and that’s an intrinsic thing that everyone feels themselves, but you definitely enjoy it, at least when you’re at home. I didn’t necessarily hear that and I didn’t feel like Seattle’s crowd was this deafening sound that we couldn’t stay organized and things like that. Not, at least, this time around. But it can add an element to the game that you have to deal with when you’re in between the lines.”


On being back at Allianz Field for the first time this season today, even for training…

“I think it’s always fun to come out and train at the stadium. It’s a beautiful pitch, it’s our place of worship, if you will, on the weekends. It’s where we get to go and do some of the beautiful stuff that we enjoy doing. I always enjoying stepping foot in between these lines, it’s different than a training session. Feels a little bit different, yeah, there wasn’t fans there but, all of us, we’re in these moments, we’re thinking about what we’re going to be doing in those spaces on the field come Saturday. it’s always good to take those mental pictures when you’re here and do that. It’s a little different than what you would do at a regular training session so it’s always special to come out here.”


On player development in this country and league…

“I only started six games in my first two seasons, but I was in about 30-35 plus appearances, mostly coming off the bench obviously, which is six starts. It was important and, I would say, what I was able to do is adjust to the league as the league continued to grow and become more competitive. I feel like I came in at a time when the league was just starting to evolve and I think it’s become more and more difficult for young players, for kids through college to come in and make an impact right away, just based on the amount of money that gets spent all over the field. If you look down most rosters, guys that are contributing on teams that come through college ranks or even homegrown ranks are playing outside back or centerback. Most teams are spending their money on these offensive positions. I’ll point to a guy like [Justin] McMaster who is a great pick-up by us so far from what I’ve seen. He’s a guy who played three of four years of college, but he’s able to come in here and continue to compete for minutes and he’s making that adjustment. I don’t look too much into it, how much you play that first year, those first months, I always look to: Are guys progressing? There’s more money being put into offensive positions, all positions in all honesty compared to what it was back in ’12 when I entered the league. I like to look at that. Is the quality of player improving? And I would say, compared to when I entered the league, the quality of player coming out of college and these homegrown systems is far better. That will only raise the talent within this locker room and throughout the league.”


On the regional schedule this year…

“Well I think it’s a great question, Jerry. I was really disappointed with the schedule, if I’m being honest with you. I hate that there is no balanced schedule. I understand that it’s never equal but I think it’s part of our sport where you get to play everybody. [The league] can hide behind the idea that it’s based on travel and COVID stuff, and I totally understand that, but for Minnesota, we’re going to be traveling pretty much equal time if we’re going to Orlando or if we were going to LA. That excuse doesn’t really work for me, work for us. I get it for some of the West Coast, East Coast teams, I understand that. But with the use of charters, that was our biggest obstacle beforehand when it came to travel. Flight times and the amount of time you spend in an airport. But with the implementation of charters due to COVID protocols and restrictions, I think we were going to be able to make those hurdles work for the schedule. I’ll be honest with you, that was extremely disappointing and I’m not the only player. I’ve talked to many guys around the league who are very disappointed because it gives fans all across this country an opportunity to see just about every team, whether it’s in their market, in their stadiums or play against their own teams on their local networks. That’s an important thing to grow our sport. We need to make sure we continue to do that going forward and I understand, this was decision that was made but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was disappointed in it. We’ll adjust, we’ll make it work. Fair and balanced, we can always have that argument. I just really enjoy getting to play every team in this league. That to me, is the most fair and balanced way to create a competition.”


On his thoughts on Patrick Weah…

“Patrick, I have to remind myself he’s 17 just about every other day. He’s got a lot of talent, a lot of raw ability. He’s a guy who is quite technical at times and he’s very skillful with the ball. I think Patrick, what he’ll have to work on is learn the game, in a way, and what I mean by that is understanding when to be taking a one-two touch and when to be taking defenders on. I think it’s something he needs to make an adjustment at and he’ll learn over time. A play happened today where he takes one too many touches and probably gets fouled, but he’s on the ground and we kind of played on today because of it and were disposed in our defensive third. Those little moments, again, that I think a young player like himself will learn from. Great upside. Patrick, I think, is a really good kid and I think he’ll have a bright future. He just needs to continue to get better every day. I’ve really appreciated his willingness to talk to older guys and not be afraid of those things. There’s a lot of positives going for him and I think we’ll be seeing him get some MLS minutes at some point this year.”