Minnesota United picked up three points at home in an entertaining match against Orlando City SC. The gaffer and a handful of players spoke with MNUFC.COM after the big win, here's what they had to say:
MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath
On what the win means to Minnesota United:
I just said to the players, the strangest thing is I don’t think we played as well tonight as we have done over the last two or three weeks. But we got the rewards for what we put in over the last two or three weeks. You don’t always get it at the appropriate time. But our determination to try and get a result, and to hold onto it at the end, I thought was evident and was there for everybody to see. I said to you before this week, I think the most important thing for me was the three points. To give them some reward, and something that you know you’re doing right, because it’s really difficult to keep trying to convince players to keep doing what you’re asking them if you don’t get results. And today, I thought we started, I thought they started brightly, and Cyle [Larin] started really well for them. And we’re out of luck at times. But, it’s been the other way around the last few weeks. I’m delighted for everybody. I thought the crowd was magnificent again. The noise in the stadium seemed like an awful lot more than 18,000, 19,000 whatever it was. So, hats off to them. A really good performance. They can enjoy it, and I’m sure I enjoy it.
On Christian celebrating his goal with Heath:
I think, players know what it means to players when they go back to their old club, and it’s no different for coaches. An awful lot said about my relationship and departure from Orlando. But I did say this week, yeah, I wanted to win probably more today than I have in the past, but the most important thing was for the club to win. For the team to win. For Minnesota United. As I said before this week, I never ever have bad memories about Orlando, this is where I am now. I’m trying to build something we can be proud of here. So, all my energy is on that. So, pleased that we won, but more pleased for the supporters and the players. They’re the most important people.
On Ibson’s slide tackle play:
Well, it’s not only that, you see the energy that he plays with for a 33 year old. I speak to the older guys all the time. You know, [Jome] Ish, these younger guys, if they want a role model, just look at this guy. Achieved virtually everything in the game. 33 years of age. Wants to train every day. Trains everyday at his maximum. Comes and plays. Loves playing football. He’s an incredible role model for the younger players at this football club.
On Molino and his status:
Well him and Bash weren’t feeling too clever on late Thursday, and then on Friday we thought well then we’ll keep them away from the rest of the group, and they just really haven’t responded to it. I knew we were going to need a lot of energy today, so we didn’t want to take any risks. But, hopefully it’s only a 48 hour thing and they’ll be back in to work on Monday or Tuesday.
On the crowd:
Well, I think it gets better by the week, I really do. I think the relationship and the bond between the players and the crowd is getting greater every single week. We have to keep building that. We have to keep getting the crowd going, and getting them off the seat. Because, that’s what they’re here for, they’ve come here to be entertained. And as I said last week, the crowd energized the players last week, and I thought it kept them going again this week. They played their butt off.
On sharing that winning moment with his assistant coaches:
I know how important it was for the rest of the staff as well. There was no getting away from it, when you worked at a club like we did for a long period of time. People forget Ian was there for a long time with me. So he was delighted as well. I keep saying I was so pleased for our players and for the crowd. You know, that’s the most important thing. That period in my career is gone. I’ll always have fond memories of it, but we have to keep doing it now. We have to keep building on what we want to do here. We have a lot going for us.
On the weaknesses of the team:
We were a little bit surprised with the shape, because they don’t normally play a 4-4-2 with a flat midfield. I don’t think they used Johan Venegas enough in the first half. I don’t think we let our spare man on the ball in the first half enough. Second half, we were a little bit better.
On having any interesting conversations with former players after the match:
Yeah. A couple of them guys, I’m friends with. Cyle Larin is big friends with my son. Stayed with us over Christmas and New Year’s, so, you know, every time it went to him I was crossing my fingers because as he proved tonight, he was dangerous all the way through. I thought the two front lads for them did really well actually. Of course there was trouble for most of the evening, but our two kept at it.
On seeing Johan Venegas in the match:
Johan has got qualities, we know that. Now we need to try and find where we can get the best out of him, and where Molino fits, and try and get the best out of that combination. Not quite sure we know which the best combination is yet, and where we play him.
On how he would rate Ismaila Jome’s performance:
I thought he did great. He’s starting to get a little bit more confident in himself. Feeling part of the group. That’s one of the big things young players have to get over quite quickly. I said to him before the game, ‘you’re on the team because you can play at this level. Now go and show people.’ I thought he did some good stuff. Kept going. So it’s been a good start for him, and he’ll get better. He’s got some good qualities of the kid.
MNUFC Goal Scorer Christian Ramirez
On planning goal celebration with Heath:
It was an in the moment thing. I know how much this game meant to him. For everything he has done for [Orlando] and how things ended there. I made sure he got recognized for what he’s doing here.
On what he said to Heath in the celebration:
“That was for you. I know how much this means to you.”
On getting redemption after the past few weeks:
Bobby [Shuttleworth] was the first one that came up to me after the game. He told me that we broke the streak. So that felt nice. To be able to learn from last week. It was nice.
On establishing a connection with J. Venegas:
He was free so much throughout the whole game. At halftime, coach came in here telling us to not avoid the obvious and we started finding him. Once he gets turned on he gets very difficult to defend and he starts to pick out passes like he did on the goal. He didn’t even look. He just knew I was waiting for it.
On importance of the win:
These are the [results] that are going to matter at the end of the year. We have to continue to build on and learn from these, in the way that we grinded it out and dug deep to keep a shutout. We’ll continue to learn and more of these will come.
On fan support:
It’s been pretty unreal. How loud the stadium gets when the whole stadium starts chanting. We make it a point, every game whenever we feel like there’s an opportunity to get momentum building we start throwing our hands up to get the fans going, because we know how important they are to our team. And how miserable it is for an away side to start hearing and feel the stadium coming on to you. We make sure to get them involved as much as we can.
On knowing J. Venegas was going to make the pass leading to his goal:
Throughout the whole game he was telling me, “I know where you are. Even if I’m not looking at you just expect it.” So anytime the ball was coming into to him I was on my toes, making a run. Wherever he’s going to find me. We got unlucky a couple times. Defenders picked off the pass. But, I’m glad that that one worked out.
On being patient or aggressive on chances:
Right now with my role in between the centerbacks, if one of them starts to cheat which the right centerback did, I know that’s the place that Johan’s looking to play into, and he’s looking over his shoulder to see which one is coming. So I’m always talking to him to make sure he knows what’s going on. Once he gets the ball, there’s very few passers like him in the final third. So it’s nice.
MNUFC Midfielder Miguel Ibarra
On what his mentality was coming into the game:
My mentality was just make sure I have a good game. Defensively I had a good game. Offensively, I had a continue that could have gone in, but I was happy we got three points.
On how it felt to see Christian score his goal:
Amazing. I told him he could have done that the last pass and given me the assist. Kind of giving him a hard time. But I’m glad he did.
On if the players talked about wanting to get this win especially against Heath’s old team:
We knew from the beginning that he really wanted this win. We deserved it. The last two games I think we deserved more than no points. I’m just happy we came out now; it wasn’t one of our greatest games, but we deserved it overall.
On what it was like to get to celebrate the goal with Heath and the whole team:
Amazing. We all knew it was really for him. All we wanted to do was get this win for him, and the team was all up to it. We got the three points, and at the end we all celebrated.
On if it was good to get back in the win column at home:
Yeah, definitely. Every time we’re at home we want to get three points—especially for the fans. That’s encouraging to come out to all the games. We’re just going to continue to keep working. We have a tough game in Kansas, and now we’ll just focus on that.
MNUFC Midfielder Ismaila Jome
On starting first MLS Game:
It was good. It was really exciting. Kevin, one of our best players is injured so the Gaf [Adrian Heath] told me yesterday that if he can’t play today, that I’ll get the start. It was fun and great that it was a team win also.
On comfort level:
I think I’m just getting more used to the MLS level and I haven’t played as many minutes, so my fitness is not 100%. Every game and the more minutes I get, I get more comfortable and sharper on the ball.
On getting told by head coach Adrian Heath about the start:
It was good. I was excited and I was prepared for it yesterday, because he told me there was a possibility that Kevin wouldn’t play today and there was a possibility I was going to start. It was just really exciting and I got my head in the game and focused on either starting or coming off the bench possibly.
On Adrian giving specific instructions:
Just to work hard off the ball and do our thing on the ball. I have been playing well in training, and to run at guys and try to get in goals, or find Christian and Burchie [Marc Burch].