Blue ‘Loons’ lick wounds after MLS mauling

Los Angeles (AFP) – Another game, another brutal, one-sided defeat. 

Two games into their existence as a Major League Soccer franchise, and Minnesota United FC have done little to dispel grim predictions they may turn out to be one of the worst teams in league history.  

On Sunday, the “Loons” launched their home season in near-arctic conditions, with snow blanketing the field at the TCF Bank Stadium as they faced fellow 2017 expansion side Atlanta United FC.

With the mercury plunging to 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius) at kick-off, the game was officially the coldest in MLS history.

Yet the freezing weather did little to chill the festive atmosphere amongst the 35,403 spectators who packed the stands hoping to see Minnesota bounce back from their 5-1 opening round thrashing in Portland a week earlier.

But fast-forward 90 minutes, and an icy blast of reality had settled across the ground as Minnesota limped off the field following a 6-1 thrashing.

It was left to defender Vadim Demidov to sum up the mood of the team, saying Minnesota’s supporters had outperformed the men on the pitch.

“The crowd, the supporters were fantastic,” Demidov said. “They were with us all the time, the whole 90 minutes. And they were much greater than us today, I take my hat off to them. 

“This is all on us and we have to take it in and we really don’t want to let them down the next game.”

For many observers however, the one-sided nature of Minnesota’s opening two games represent the fruition of the kind of fears articulated by Sports Illustrated’s writer Grant Wahl, who said during a Q+A with readers last October that many around the league were pessimistic about the team’s chances of enjoying a successful debut season.

“I make a lot of calls around MLS, and I can’t tell you how many coaches, GMs and agents there are who are saying Minnesota in its first year might be one of the worst teams in MLS history on the field,” Wahl wrote in response to a question.

For the record, the worst season in MLS history currently belongs to DC United, who registered only three wins in 2013.

Minnesota’s head coach Adrian Heath, the former Everton striker, said the club would need to improve their defence to have any chance of being competitive as they prepare for a difficult away match against the Colorado Rapids this weekend.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb when we were 3-0 down after such a short period of time,” Heath said after Sunday’s game, which saw Atlanta race into a 3-0 lead by the 27th minute.

“…every time we got a little bit of momentum going, it seemed like they went down to their end and scored. Obviously, the more you chase it, the more you leave holes.

“There was some quality finishing but on the whole, I think a lot of it’s to do with our bad defending.”

The only comfort for Minnesota was the raucous support of the fans, Heath said.

“It’s just a pity that we couldn’t give them any type of performance … very disappointed and I apologize for that because they didn’t deserve that,” Heath added. 

“We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

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