Loons move on after ‘really poor decision’ brought Saturday draw


Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath might have felt a bit better about Saturday night’s tying penalty kick late in second-half stoppage. But it doesn’t mean that the 2-2 draw with Vancouver in Salt Lake City doesn’t feel like a loss.

Heath said he spoke with Professional Referee Organization general manager Howard Webb about a foul called on Loons veteran Ethan Finlay in the penalty area that was upheld by video assistant referee (VAR) review.

Heath said he had a “very frank and honest” discussion with Webb, a former Premier League and World Cup final referee who helped MLS implement VAR in 2017.

“I think without divulging too much, we weren’t too far wrong from what we thought,” Heath said after team training Tuesday in Blaine.

After the game, Heath and Finlay criticized Saturday’s referee, Lukasz Szpala, for what Heath called a “really poor decision” that Finlay said left him and his teammates “gutted.”

Both questioned that night why the referee didn’t go over to watch video that would have confirmed his call, or not.

“Obviously, the referee was told from upstairs that the decision on the field was correct,” Heath said. “So I say we move on. I’ve been doing this a long time and there are days that it goes for you and days that it doesn’t. Obviously, a lot has been said and written about the incident. Mine hasn’t changed. I thought it was a bad decision.

“It’s done. We can’t change it now. When it’s the last kick of the game, it looks as though it’s a defeat, but it wasn’t. Our second half was excellent. So I want to take the positives out of the game and let’s move on to the game at the weekend.”

Losers just once in their last in their last 12 games (6-1-5), the Loons play Houston Saturday at Allianz Field.

Defenders on the road back

Injured since July 3, starting center back Michael Boxall (thigh) trained Tuesday. Heath said he hopes they could build up Boxall during the week so he can return Saturday.

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Injured starting left back Chase Gasper (hip flexor) trained as well and Heath called him “day-to-day.”

Injured left-side attacker Franco Fragapane (thigh) worked on his own with a trainer. He’ll be re-assess late in the week. “I would still err on the side of caution,” Heath said.

Waiting for the weekend

Striker Ramon Abila trained with the team Tuesday after he didn’t accompany it on the two-game trip to Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Heath called him “fit and healthy.”

“We’ll have to see if he’s in the 20 at the weekend,” Heath said. “The fact he didn’t play, I was looking where we’ve been on the road, high-energy games where we have to defend really strongly from the front. I don’t know if things will change. But towards the end of the week, I’ll make my decision what the 20 is and go from there.”

Weah returns

Loons prospect Patrick Weah trained Tuesday, too. He’d just returned from 22 days’ trial with Real Betis, a Spanish La Liga club that scouted him on video in preseason play and a MLS regular-season game against Austin FC and contacted his agent.

“It was great, learned a lot,” he said. “It’s a lot different over there. The food is different. The streets are different. The people are different. The language is different. It just a different culture.”

He also learned the Spanish “tiki-taka” way of play, which emphasizes short passes and player movement.

“It’s a different style,” Weah said. “Soccer is a simple game. Get the ball and move it. That’s all it is. Nothing complicated.”

Weah said he’s open to returning to Real Betis or another club worldwide on trial.



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