Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth reached for a first-half shot against New England. “It puts a lot of pressure on us to win games at home because we have been really poor on the road,” he said.
Through his 90 minutes of play on Wednesday, Brent Kallman took a bit of a beating. Turf burn on his face, a hyperextended thumb and a numb leg were a few of the knocks the Minnesota United center back took against New England.
He’s probably going to need to shake it off and be ready to start again by 6 p.m. Sunday against the Los Angeles Football Club.
The Loons have a chance to close out a three-game, nine-day homestand with all nine points. But considering the exact same 18-man squad and 11 starters played last Saturday in a 3-2 victory against Real Salt Lake as well as in Wednesday’s 2-1 result against the Revolution, fatigue might derail that opportunity.
“You always do, don’t you, when you’ve got a three-game week,” coach Adrian Heath said when asked if he worries about his team’s stamina. “But we’ve spoke about looking after ourselves, rehydrating. The preparation for Sunday’s game has to start now. What they eat, what they drink, plenty of rest in the next two or three days.
“We won’t be doing an awful lot, well, certainly this group won’t be doing an awful lot. Obviously, Romario [Ibarra] and people like that, they’ll be training. But we’ll see where he is come the end of the week, because he might figure somewhere along the line.”
United didn’t practice Thursday and will train Friday and Saturday ahead of the game Sunday. Kallman said that extra 24 hours is really helpful. After Sunday, the Loons don’t play again for six days. Forward Christian Ramirez called this time of year a “grind,” but said he focuses on recovery through ice baths, massage and cryotherapy, a new regime he took up about two months ago.
He said he initially went on his own to a cryotherapy facility in Roseville, but the club eventually worked out a deal so all players can go without paying from their own pockets.
But there is still the possibility of lineup changes for Sunday. With new addition Ibarra possibly ready — the left winger joined the Loons on Monday — Heath could switch back to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, which would require a few personnel changes. Heath also said, though, that the team has started to gain confidence in the current 3-5-2 shape, and he will have to consider the cons of dismantling that.
Ramirez, who scored the Loons’ first goal on Wednesday, said the team made a goal of registering three points in all three games this past week. Now that they’re almost there, they don’t want to let it slip.
“It puts a lot of pressure on us to win games at home because we have been really poor on the road,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said. “I don’t think it’s any more difficult than normal with the squad that we have.
‘I think whatever the manager chooses to do, if another guy needs to play and step up and rotate in, it’s that guy’s responsibility to put on a performance similar to what happened [Wednesday].”