Finlay vs. Portland
© Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Training Quotes | #SJvMIN

MINNESOTA UNITED HEAD COACH ADRIAN HEATH 

On what was the main difference from the opening 45 to the second half…
“I don't think we turned the ball over as cheaply, we certainly got up the field a little bit more. I thought our ball retention in their half was a lot better. I thought somehow, forward running on the counter attack was excellent. Ethan, especially running away from the ball, opening and stretching the game. I was really pleased with our second half performance. We can't start that sloppy though, because I thought the first 15 we rolled a look a little bit at times, and goals change games. If we would have gone behind then, it would have actually changed the game plan. Something for us to work on next week.”

On looking forward to watching Ethan Finlay and Kevin Molino develop this year…
 “It's never easy that first year, after ACL for the pair of them. So we always thought this year, we would see more out of them. They both come back in really good shape. If they could continue to play like that, they're going to be huge for us this year.”

On how he feels about the road mentality this year versus last year…
“No, we know what we’re good at. We have a really good back four, got a really good goalkeeper, good protection in front with Jan [Gregus] and Ozzie [Alonso], and now we've also got the protection in the wider areas. Ethan and Robin [Lod] put a great shift in it on the weekend and you have to do that on the road. You have to, at times, you have to have bed in, it's a bit of a siege mentality at times, and I thought we, when they did have their moments of pressure, I thought we handled it really well.”

On San Jose this year and if he expects something different from them compared to last year…
“I think so. I watched the game this morning from the weekend when they played Toronto. They scored later on to get a draw. A lot of similarities from what they did last year. The one thing I know about it is they're going to be full of running. The coach believes in that and they're going to try and get you off your shape because of the way they play. Now if we can have a good shape and do well on the counter attack I think we can cause some problems like we did last year.”

 

MINNESOTA UNITED MIDFIELDER ETHAN FINLAY

On his thoughts on the first game…
“It was a great result. First game of the season, on the road in a tough place to play. Portland, a very good team and obviously we have some history with them in the last couple years. It’s nothing more than that, it’s the first win of the season. You get the monkey off the back and there was a lot of great things that came from that game, you know a couple mistakes that probably we want to clean up, some opportunities that we probably gave up a little bit easily. I think there was a lot of positives offensively and defensively.” 

On starting the game a little slow…
“It’s a lot of things, right? You’re playing on the road, in a hostile environment. You’re playing your first game of the season, there’s some butterflies out there. Even if you’ve done it like I have, this is my ninth season, even if you’ve done it, you’re still a little jittery, you’re still a little excited especially when you’re on the road. For us to manage those first 15, 20 minutes the way we did, I was really happy. We come in at halftime 0-0, I think we all would have said, ok we’re in a good spot. We did, we felt like our fitness would be able to take over as the game went on and be able to counterattack on a team like Portland and we were able to execute that and score three goals on the road. Anytime you score on goals like that on the road, three in particular, we should be winning games. Especially with our defense and our goalkeeper, so really happy with the result.”

On his partnership with Luis Amarilla and connecting the front four…
“Soccer is a universal language and you start to figure out guys’ movements and where they like the ball and I’ve been able to pick up on a couple things during the preseason, I think same thing with him. His timing of knowing when I’m going to be able to pick my head up, look and be able to deliver a cross. He’s a very smart player, he knows where the space is. If you look at the goal, he makes very, very slight, discrete movements that just pull [Larrys] Mabiala a little bit to the inside, towards the ball, gives himself a little bit of that extra space and allows him to really come on to the ball and really put a powerful header under and squeak it under Steve [Clark’s] body there. It’s those little things that you really can’t teach that he has but I thought we all clicked, to be honest with you. All the front guys, [Kevin Molino], Robin [Lod], there was a lot of moments that I thought, we created that maybe didn’t come off for a goal or for a highlight but we were creating some half chances, some good looks and some good opportunities. Lot of encouraging stuff going forward and we hope to build off it.”

On Luis’s adjustment right before his goal…
“It’s one of those things, like I said, that you can’t teach those. Those are instinct movements. That’s a goalscorer’s kind of play.”

On keeping the defense compact…
“Our defense, I thought, was solid most of the night. There were some opportunities that went right down the middle of the field that we would love to clean up and have a little bit tighter lines, but for the most part, especially in the second half, I think our spacing was fantastic. I think the blocks of four midfielders and defenders was really solid. We give up a soft PK obviosuly, but the response afterwards from everybody, all 11 guys on the field, really hunker down and defend hard and withstand the pressure we had to for 30 more minutes, I think it shows a lot of the character of the guys front to back. Really happy with it. I’ve spoken a lot about, obviously, our front guys, but defensively, I thought they were really, really good the other night at being able to deny the ball, especially as the game went on. To deny Chara some of the ball and to make them go on the outside, and that’s our strength, we push guys on the outside and we’ve got two of the better guys on the air in Ike Opara and Michael Boxall, then you’ve got the range of Tyler Miller. Those three guys right there, I think we like our chances against any team that’s putting a lot of crosses in and that’s what we left them to for most of the second half.”

On facing San Jose next week…
“The first thing I would say is the success came in two moments of, that I think, if you looked at the box score, yea it might have been success. We played them early in the season when they’re still trying to figure out a new coach at home, we get a result there. I don’t put too much stalk in that. And then you fast forward to the summertime game when we played them and, for the most, they really did outplay us that day. We countered really well and we took advantage of our opportunities but they had plenty other opportunities, I think Vito [Mannone] stood on his head that day. So they’re a very dangerous team, that’s what I take out of it and we have to give them a lot of respect. They have a lot of players, similar players back, playing similar style, like you mentioned, and a whole year on that system. Very dangerous team. They’re going to be playing at home. They got a late tie, late draw last weekend so a very good team. A team we respect but a team we also think, we match up well against, that we can expose at times like we were able to. But I think we will have to be better defensively than we were, at least in that second game we played them in the mid-summer at Allianz [Field]. We have to respect their ability to get forward and push, playing numbers forward but also take advantage of our opportunities in the counter.”

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