Minnesota will take nine points home after five games on the road to start the season after defeating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in Red Bull Arena over the weekend. Here's what the team had to say following the win:
MINNESOTA UNITED HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH
Overall thoughts on pulling out the win in a tough place:
"I thought we deserved it. They had a bit of pressure, but I think apart from one good effort from Bradley Wright-Phillips, I can't remember Vito having a lot to do. I thought we looked dangerous on the break all evening. Obviously the changing formations certainly helped us, and I thought there was a lot of really good performances."
"But we spoke to the group before the season started with five games on the road, and we thought that if we can come out with seven or nine, it's been a really, really good start for us, and that's what we've got. So we're delighted. We've virtually played a third of our away games now. So to be where we are gives us a lot of encouragement. As I said to the players after, it's been a reasonable start, but we can get better."
A lot of your game plan at least from my vantage point was going direct to your nine, having it build up and then trying not to turn the ball over in dangerous spots:
"Yeah, we've spoke about it because the one thing about these -- they're probably as good as anybody in the league at pressing the ball, and if you play into the hands of trying to play short balls out and they get cut out and then all of a sudden they turn you around, it's a problem. So we tried to break the initial press, get it in to Angelo, then get runners going from there, can we switch the play because that's sometimes difficult for them, as well, and I thought we managed to get our fullbacks, especially Romain, into there off the field. That was where the goal came from. Overall, tactically we knew what we were doing, but sometimes it doesn't look like that."
You mentioned that you wanted to get the seven or nine points going in when you go back to St. Paul. Now that you have the nine, just what does it mean?
"Well, as I say, it's been a really good start for us. We had was it two wins all of last year, so now we've got three out of five. We've actually given ourselves a good little start. But as I said, it doesn't count for anything next week. It's going to be a nice day for everybody, but like I just said to the players, they're nicer days when you win."
What has kind of been the difference this year on the road with this team maybe versus something you weren't seeing last year?
"Different mentality, different group. You go from the middle of last year, Angelo and Mario and Darwin, plus the five we've added this year, in less than six months it's like eight players and you in the team, and we've added really good important pieces with Ozzie Alonzo, Ike Opara, Vito in goal, Romain. We've added a lot of experience, people who have done the course and business before. They know what playing in this league is like. We've added good experience, we've added good players, we've added good characters, and that's the reason we've had a better start."
That second goal in the second half, what did it mean to go up 2-0 right there?
"Well, it does. Obviously you still never want to (indiscernible) because we knew they were going to keep pressing and then all of a sudden I thought, here we go, because we've had three penalties this year, I thought we were going to get one against us. But no, I was pleased with the commitment to see the job through because I can honestly think that this time last year we would have probably caved in and this would have been 2-2. But now, we're a different mentality, I think we're a different group, and we give ourselves a good opportunity to move forward."
Did their formational look change things at all for you? Did it catch you a bit by surprise?
"No, we knew whichever way they played they were going to put us under a lot of pressure. The secret is here, we say all the time, is don't turn it over in bad spots, take your opportunities when they come, and you have a chance, because if you don't, chances are they're going to suffocate you, and we didn't let that to happen today."
You talked about having a special day this week. What does it mean for you guys, looks like?
"Well, it's a beautiful stadium and a lot of hard work has gone into it. As I said the other day, it's like a bit of a dream that's become a reality. But having been through this in a few places in the past, let's go win the game, and that'll make it even more special."
What are your expectations for Romario this year?
"For Romario? If he plays regular, to score more than 10 goals, double figures. There's more goals in him. I think he's on the field – even last weekend in LA, he had two opportunities last week. He gets himself in good scoring positions. He's got to stay fit. He's got to get fitter, and if he does, he'll score goals."
Are you happy the position that he has been playing the last couple games?
"Yeah, the biggest issue that we've had with Romario since he's been with us is keeping him fit for a period of time. He plays the game, then he has a little slight hamstring or a groin and then he leaves, he misses a week, 10 days, and then he comes again. We need him to stay fit, and if he stays fit, he'll score goals."
MINNESOTA UNITED DEFENDER BRENT KALLMAN
On the team’s overall performance:
"We knew it was going to be a battle. They play very direct, they put numbers around for the knockdowns, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty game and we were going to have to grind it out and we were going to get chances on the break. It went exactly the way we prepared and tried to get ourselves ready for. We took a couple chances and defended the box as well as we could and ended up getting a result."
On the team’s mentality this season:
"It’s just an overall toughness and I think adding the experienced guys that know how to win and have won in the league helps a lot. For example, Ozzie and Ike, obviously huge, the positivity coming from Ike that last ten minutes about ‘we’re almost there fellas, we can see the finish line, it’s right there.’ It honestly kept me going. It helped pushed me through and I was exhausted. These guys have been there. They’re battle tested, they know how to win and i think that just gives the other guys a lot of confidence."
MINNESOTA UNITED DEFENDER MICHAEL BOXALL
On the team’s overall performances:
“Obviously it means a lot to us as after the last two we dropped through. I think we lacked a little bit of effort for the full 90 minutes the last two games and we had a point to prove today and I think we really grinded it out against a useful Red Bull team who’ve got a lot of useful players. Obviously they have their own struggles but it’s a big three points for us.
On earning nine points in their five-game stretch away from home:
“Before we started we, obviously it’s not an easy stretch to go away from home with this amount of games, but we kind of set those targets at the beginning and then we got 6 from the first two games we kind of pushed it up a little bit and then maybe a little complacent in the next to and then had to put things right. So, it’s good to have a bit of momentum into opening our new stadium next week.”