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Heath concerned United's road woes now 'a mental thing'

HOUSTON — Minnesota United has allowed an average of 2.7 goals per game on the road this season, a number that increased in a 3-0 loss to Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, July 7.

After previous road woes, United coach Adrian Heath has been reluctant to say the results have crept into his players' heads, but that might have changed Saturday. "It worries me that this is a mental thing now," he said.

Minnesota has allowed fewer than two goals on the road only once across nine games in 2018 — a spirited 2-1 win over Orlando City way back on March 10.

Not just defense

It wasn't just defensive issues Saturday. United was outshot 22-4 in total shots and 9-1 in shots on goal. The Loons' only shot on frame came on a Christian Ramirez breakaway in the ninth minute that was saved by Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis.

"Peeled off and made a run, took a look to see if someone was trailing me," Ramirez said. "It just the was the natural instinct to see if Darwin (Quintero) was trailing me, I could just square it to him for the tap-in. He wasn't, so I took a shot and the 'keeper made a good save. The only thing I would have changed is shoot it lower."

Ramirez said there were no personal ill effects from most of the starters playing three games in eight days. He was subbed off for rookie Mason Toye in the 66th minute.

"I was frustrated to come off, especially when we are down 2-0 and I feel like a goal can change things," he said.

Sticking with newness

Heath remained with a 3-5-2 formation for a third straight game.

The only change was Tyrone Mears on the right side of a three-man back line, with Francisco Calvo out with a one-game suspension for card accumulation. Mears, who has experience in that spot, started over Eric Miller, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury, and rookie Wyatt Omsberg.

Heath's bread-and-butter formation is a 4-2-3-1, and the switch was based on the best players available, including Calvo coming back from the World Cup with Costa Rica before the midweek win over Toronto.

"For some of our players, this is their best system, so we have to work that out," Heath said. "Alexi (Gomez) has shown that is probably his best position."

No Venegas for Saprissa

Johan Venegas will not be with Deportivo Saprissa when the Costa Rican champions visit the Loons for a friendly Wednesday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Venegas, who was loaned from Minnesota to Saprissa before the MLS season, is among a handful of players from Costa Rica's World Cup roster that are not with them on their U.S. tour.

Saprissa lost 2-0 in a friendly to the Columbus Crew on July 3. They will play Argentina champion River Plate in Orlando on Sunday before coming to Minnesota early next week.


United midfielder Rasmus Schuller left in the 72nd minute because of tightness in his quadriceps and fatigue. He was replaced by Miller. ... Harrison Heath was the other Minnesota sub, with Collen Warner leaving in the 85th minute.