Minnesota is traveling east for a matchup in New York City this Thursday. The Loons are coming off a two-match home stretch where they took four points and made progress up the table. Now, MNUFC faces a true test against one of the hottest teams in the league. Here is what they had to say ahead of kickoff:
Head Coach Adrian Heath
On when he takes out the first month and looks at this year, have his expectations increased:
Yeah. I think we’ve proved that we are more than competitive when we’ve have our best team on the field. Obviously, at the minute, we look as though we got one or two — we’re down to bare bones at this moment in time. No Brent. No Vadim. So that leaves us light at center back because Joe Greenspan has got the concussion as well. We literally have Calvo and JD. But in terms of when I think that we play at our maximum, I think we can play at any team in the league. As I’ve just spoke to the guys this morning, I’ve looked at our performances away in Houston, and you look at their home form. Our performance in Dallas. Our performance in Toronto. Probably three of the most in-form and teams at the top of the division, in their respective conferences. So we can play on the road. I just don’t think we’ve done ourselves justice on the road. That's something that I spoke about in terms of tomorrow night. I don’t have any problem with us in possession of the ball. I don't think we’re working on enough in the transition of the ball turning over to get in spots early. And I don't think we’re defending with the same resolution that we do at home. That’s something that we have to address.
On if his increased expectations are part of his reaction on Saturday against Vancouver:
I think, as we've said earlier in the season, this has been a growing experience for me as well, to get in a better understanding of this group of players and what makes them tick, and what buttons to press to get things out of players. And, you’re probably right. But would I have been like that seven or eight weeks ago? Maybe not. I have been so delighted the fact that we came back from 2-0. Because I don't think eight weeks ago we would have done that either. I think we would have lost this game. So for me to be angry with the group because we didn’t get the extra two points, probably is a mark of how far we’ve come. But that’s more to do, I think, that I’ve got a better understanding of this group now.
MNUFC Midfielder Sam Cronin
On if he agrees that Adrian’s expectation has increased since the beginning of the season, and that being the reason he reacted the way he did on Saturday vs Vancouver:
Yeah, I would. Especially with the way we performed in that game. It was crazy that we couldn’t get three points out of the way that we played in that game, but you have to defend your box well and not make silly mistakes, and they did capitalize on our goals. But in general, yeah. I think, especially at home, you can see that we’re a confident team, and we’re usually on top of the game. We expect to get three points. And a tie is not quite good enough now.
On how he would rate with how things are with the team on the road:
I think primarily it’s just us as players on the field just being a little bit more tough and cutthroat with our performances. We just have to make sure when we have chances, we’re strong in scoring those, and that we just continue to defend well. We can do it at times, but we haven’t put together a real 90 minutes consistently enough. So we need to make sure it’s the supreme focus from the 11 guys that are on the field. Make sure that we’re professionals with how we handle ourselves, because this game is no different than any other one. There are other guys that can hurt us if you give them time and space.
On his favorite stadium:
Yeah. I like… I’d say maybe Kansas City. The atmosphere is good, but then the surface of the field is probably the best. Some of the Pacific Northwest stadiums, the atmosphere is great, but then you just have the turf, which isn’t ideal. Red Bulls is good. The atmosphere of New York City is good, but then the field is just small. It’s not a soccer specific stadium, so it’s not quite the top of the list.
On if an added layer comes with NYCFC’s stadium because it is historic:
I don’t know. Not really. I mean, it’s kind of cool the first time you step in there. It’s just another stadium. It’s just Yankee Stadium. I’m also not a huge baseball fan either so.
On what happens when there is a narrower pitch:
There’s just less time. The spaces are tighter all throughout the field, so we have to make sure that everybody’s mind is turned on, and you for sure know one or two options before you get the ball. And if we do that, we’ve proven that we’re a good team. We can pass it around, pass it around well on anybody. But what’s important is that we don’t lose the ball in bad areas, because they are very good on the break.