MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - For the first time in his coaching career, Adrian Heath will not be on the sidelines Saturday as Minnesota United hosts Austin FC at Allianz Field.
Heath was issued a one-game suspension by Major League Soccer after getting his sixth yellow card of the season in the Loons’ 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers last Saturday. Defender Michael Boxall will also miss Saturday’s game, also suspended for card accumulation after being assessed a yellow card during the 16th minute of the game.
Boxall’s was one four yellow cards dealt to the Loons in the game’s first 34 minutes by referee Lukasz Szpala. Minnesota United finished the game with five yellow cards to Portland’s one. Heath got his in the 73rd minute, after a late whistle for a foul as Minnesota United was starting an attack. Heath was furious, and apparently took his displeasure a little too far.
"I think sometimes it’s difficult because of the decision that’s been made. When you get a referee to come over to you and say ‘Sorry, that’s my bad. I made a big mistake,’ how do people expect people to react? Everybody in the stadium knew it was an error, and I’m not one who can just hold my feelings," Heath said at training Friday. "Rightly or wrongly, that’s the way I am and I’ve never been any different. I was like that as a player, at the end of the day it’s come back to haunt me a little bit, but there you go. I wish I was down by the side, but that’s not the case."
Heath will be at the game, but won’t be on the sidelines. He’ll be with the team up to 90 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. He’ll watch the game from a team suite, and can’t provide any input. Assistant coach Sean McAuley will serve as the interim coach.
It’s the first game Heath will miss as a coach for disciplinary reasons. He missed one other due to a dental issue. He has confidence McAuley can fill the spot.
"There’s no differences there. I can say my piece 90 minutes before the game, and then obviously I’ll miss that little build up that five minutes before the game. But Sean has done this a lot in his career, he’s very experienced, he knows what needs to be said," Heath said. "We’ve tried to go over most of the eventualities that could happen during the game, but ultimately you never know. Sometimes you have to think on your feet, and I’ve got every faith that he’ll make the right decisions should we need to make them."
Minnesota United is looking to avenge a 2-1 loss at Austin FC on May 31. It hasn’t been the season the Loons have hoped for so far. They’re 6-7-6 overall, and just 2-1-5 at Allianz Field.
TEEMU PUKKI COULD MAKE LOONS DEBUT SATURDAY
Minnesota United is introducing new Finnish attacker Teemu Pukki Friday afternoon, and he could make his Allianz Field debut with the Loons as early as Saturday. Pukki trained with the team on Friday. He comes to Minnesota United after five seasons with Norwich City in the English Premier League, where he had 88 goals and 29 assists.
"His time clock is all over the place, but he wants to be involved tomorrow. We all watch football, we all read about it and we’ve seen his goal record and what he’s done virtually all his career," Heath said. "I have no doubt that if we create the chances that we’ve been doing this season, that we have somebody you would expect to take a fair percentage of these opportunities."