Adrian Heath is adamant Minnesota United’s attitude will dictate how they fare this season, rather than any tactical tweak.
Minnesota face FC Dallas on Decision Day knowing a win will take them above their opponents into the top four in the West, guaranteeing a home playoff.
The Loons have not lost since September, but coach Heath was concerned in midweek by their slow start in a 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire.
The former Everton forward insists his players cannot afford to let their standards slip.
“(Sheffield United’s) Chris Wilder recently said, ‘I’m fed up with teams beating us and then everybody talks about the tactics’,” Heath said.
“They never talk about how people want to run, how people want to fight, how people want to play the right ball and get out of your comfort zone. If we do that, we’re okay.”
He added: “I played in a really good team, full of internationals, and we were the same. We dropped it a notch, we were bang average.
“But if we wanted to be successful, we knew what it took. We weren’t prepared to put up with mediocre and 75 per cent and we never let anybody get away with it.
“That has never changed and it never will.”
Dallas won at Nashville to take pole position for a home first-round match, their stated aim.
Luchi Gonzalez said: “We gained momentum here the last few games. There are all these key moments that can change your season or change your momentum.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, so once we made the playoffs, we saw we could fight for a home playoff situation, which we did not earn last year.
“That became the next objective and it’s going to continue until the end.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Kevin Molino
Heath certainly cannot question Molino’s endeavor – he has had 10 shots across the past three games – but the quality must come again. One of Minnesota’s key attackers, he has not added to his seven 2020 goals since returning to the XI a month ago.
FC Dallas – Fafa Picault
Picault has shown his quality in MLS previously with Philadelphia Union, but his Dallas career has taken time to get going. Two goals and an assist in his most recent appearance might finally have him back on track at a crucial stage of the season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Seven of the eight all-time meetings between Minnesota and FC Dallas have been won by the home team, including the past five in a row. Dallas have the only away points in the series, winning 1-0 in Minnesota in June 2018.
– Minnesota United came from 2-0 down on Wednesday to draw 2-2 with Chicago Fire and equal the club’s longest regular-season undefeated streak of seven (W3 D4). Minnesota are also unbeaten in seven straight at home (W4 D3), scoring at least two goals in six of those seven games.
– Dallas have won three straight matches, including a 1-0 win at Nashville on Wednesday. They could record consecutive away wins for the first time since May 2018, which was part of their most recent overall four-match winning streak in league play.
– With his goal against the Fire on Wednesday, Robin Lod equaled Kevin Molino for the team’s most goals (seven) and most direct goal contributions (nine). Lod has been directly involved in five of the Loons’ past 11 goals (four goals, one assist), while Molino has not had a direct hand in any of them.
– Ryan Hollingshead has scored four of Dallas’ past 10 MLS goals, including the lone goal in their 1-0 win at Nashville on Wednesday. Hollingshead’s 10 goals over the past two seasons are more than any other MLS defender since the start of the 2019 campaign.
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