Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath believes MLS deserves more respect from overseas, as his in-form team prepare to take on the Portland Timbers.
Heath’s team have won five of their last six league games and earlier in July proved too hot to handle for Premier League club Everton, hammering Frank Lampard’s side 4-0 in a friendly.
While Everton are in their pre-season preparations and Minnesota are riding high on confidence in the middle of their campaign, the result proved the gap between MLS and Europe’s elite leagues could be shortening.
And Heath believes the competition does not receive the respect it deserves from elsewhere.
“There’s an ignorance and it is disrespectful. Listen, the MLS is a tough league,” Heath told the Daily Mail.
“You could be playing in 110-degree heat in Houston one day then in altitude in Colorado, freezing, the next. You’re taking six-hour flights, adjusting to different time zones, then playing competitive matches. It’s no pushover I promise you.
Heath also added that he instructed English clubs to take a punt on Alphonso Davies, when the now-Bayern Munich star was enjoying success with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“When Alphonso Davies was over here, I told four or five clubs in England they should take him but they were like ‘nah’.” Heath said. “Bayern Munich took the chance and now you’d be lucky to get change out of a £100m for him. There’s a lot of talent here.”
Minnesota sit third in the Western Conference, five places – but only four points – ahead of the Timbers, who this week signed promising defender Juan David Mosquera from Independiente Medellin.
“Juan David is a talented player who at a young age has showcased his abilities at the club level as well as in important tournaments such as Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Bongokuhle Hlongwane
Bongokuhle Hlongwane had to wait a while for his first MLS goal, but it came last week against the Houston Dynamo, after he had assisted Minnesota’s opener in a 2-1 win.
Portland Timbers – Diego Chara
Diego Chara’s next appearance will be his 350th in MLS, including playoff matches. Chara will become just the seventh player in MLS history to make 350 appearances for a single team.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Loons have a perfect home record against Portland in MLS play, winning all four meetings in the Twin Cities, each by a one-goal margin.
– Minnesota are the only team the Timbers have played more than two away matches against without ever collecting a point.
– After collecting 18 points from its first 16 games (W5 D3 L8) this season, the Loons are unbeaten in its last six games, winning five of them (D1). The 16 points since late June are the most in a six-game span in the Loons’ MLS history.
– The Timbers, unbeaten in three straight away matches (W1 D2), have not won outside of Cascadia since their playoff victory at the Rapids last Thanksgiving. Portland’s only two away wins of 2022 came in Vancouver and, in their last away match, in Seattle.
– Early this season, Minnesota relied heavily on set pieces, with eight of their first 16 goals coming on set plays (incl. pens). Just one of its last 15 goals since have been on set pieces.