United seeks more discipline in return to Allianz Field

Discipline was a word brought up multiple times as the Minnesota United resumed training Monday at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Loons coach Adrian Heath is looking for more discipline from his team after it had a 3-2 lead at Toronto FC last Friday, only to allow two goals in a two-minute span late to fall 4-3. They also lost two players, Jan Gregus and Francisco Calvo, to cards.

The Loons are back home this week, and on a short week, they’re hosting one of the best teams in the Western Conference Wednesday night at Allianz Field.

“At this moment in time we’re just making too many individual errors. I look at where we are collectively, people are in good spots. It’s just individual errors and it’s fine margins,” Heath said at the team’s training on Monday.

The Loons return to the friendly confines of Allianz Field this week, hosting the L.A. Galaxy Wednesday night. It’ll be their first time back at their new home since its debut on April 13.

It was an emotional day for the United front office, players and fans, a full day of celebrating soccer in the Twin Cities. The game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth action, two own goals, a near fight on the field and Ike Opara leaving the game in the second half after suffering a cut on his head. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

The Loons are happy that’s now a memory, and the focus shifts to getting ready for a big match Wednesday.

“The players and the team wanted to win that game so badly that it can end up backfiring on you a little bit. I just saw the end of the game, it was wide open,” defender Brett Kallman said. “We were really pushing for a goal but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be more disciplined than that and we know it.”

Discipline and recovery is the focus of practice this week as Minnesota United gets ready to host the L.A. Galaxy Wednesday night. The Galaxy is second in the Western Conference with a 6-1 record, and they’re led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s seven goals on the season. That includes three game-winning goals, and he also leads the Galaxy with 27 shots.

Keeper David Bingham has 20 saves on 27 shots this season, and has two shutouts. They’ve scored 13 goals in seven games and are 5-0 at home this season. Fortunately for the Loons, L.A.’s lone loss of the season came on the road.

Minnesota United will be short-handed against the Galaxy. They finished the loss at Toronto FC down two players after Jan Gregus and Francisco Calvo were both issued red cards. Gregus’s came in the 89th minute on a hard tackle, and Calvo was issued two yellow cards during the game, the equivalent of a red card. Neither will be available to play Wednesday night.

The Loons are also playing on just four days rest, but are hoping to have Opara and a few others back. Opara hasn’t played since suffering a nasty head injury competing for a header in the debut at Allianz Field. The absence of Gregus and Calvo means other players will have to step up.

“The most important thing is when the opportunity comes you take it. As I’ve said a million times, the manager picks the team and the players generally play themselves out of the lineup,” Heath said. “One or two people will have an opportunity in the next week or so to stake a claim to keep their starting position.”

Minnesota United is looking for its first win in 18 days, but beating the Galaxy will be a tall task. The good news for the Loons is scoring goals hasn’t been an issue. They’ve scored 17 goals in seven games, good for third in MLS.

They’re looking to tighten up their defense, and play with a little less pressure on their home turf.

“We got that first game out of the way. Now we can settle in and try to be ourselves a little bit,” Kallman said.