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United coach Adrian Heath vows to eliminate errors or 'change the personnel'

Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath reacts during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place in Vancouver on Sept. 13, 2017. Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL — After allowing a record-worst 70 goals in 34 games last season, Minnesota United developed a new mantra for their second MLS season: "Don't beat yourselves."

Yet it's exactly what the Loons did in a season-opening 3-2 defeat to San Jose on Saturday. What further bothered coaches was how one self-inflicted error was quickly compounded with a second as the Earthquakes scored in the 27th and 28th minutes.

"Sometimes you hold your hat and say that was really good and our defending was OK; ours are coming from mistakes and a lack of discipline and concentration at times," said United assistant coach Mark Watson, who oversees the defense. "I thought we did a lot of good things for extended periods of time, but if we concede three goals in a game it's going to be a long season."

San Jose's third goal, head coach Adrian Heath acknowledged, "you could say was a bit of quality." But in the end, Minnesota's three goals allowed was the second-most across the 20 MLS clubs that played last weekend, and well above their 2.05 average in 2017.

"It wasn't the shape, it was individual errors, and we have to cut them out," Heath said. "The bottom line is if we don't cut the individual errors out, then eventually you change the personnel within the group."

Will there be lineup changes when the Loons (0-1-0) face Orlando City (0-0-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday?

"Possibly," Heath said.

Ramirez improves

United striker Christian Ramirez was more active in the section of Thursday's training session open to the media than compared to Wednesday's practice. Ramirez rolled his left ankle in the first half of Saturday's loss; he finished the game, but ankle swelled up afterward.

"Christian will be game-day (decision), but we are hopeful," Heath said.

That doesn't appear to be the case for Abu Danladi, who started the game but aggravated his left hamstring injury and was subbed off for Ramirez.

"Probably not," Heath said about Danladi's chances of playing Saturday.

If Ramirez can't play, Heath will turn to rookie Mason Toye, selected by Minnesota with the seventh overall pick in the January SuperDraft. He was the Big Ten player of the year at Indiana last season.

"He will have to (be ready)," Heath said. "... When you are a young kid, sometimes you don't expect your chance to come along. If it does, it's an incredible opportunity to actually take it and show he can play at that level. If Christian can't go, Mason will start and we will see how he does."

Calvo expected to leave

United center back Francisco Calvo is expected to join the Costa Rican national team for friendlies March 23 against Scotland and March 27 versus Tunisia in France, while missing United's game against New York Red Bulls on March 24. It's expected to be start of routine absences for the Loons captain ahead of the World Cup this summer in Russia.

"The final list is not ready yet, so I have to keep working and keep playing well in my team and keep doing things," Calvo said. "If they call me, it's two friendly games and go on and fight for my spot because I don't want to go (and just) travel to Russia. I want to go and play."

Other United players that could be called for international duty in exhibition matches include Michael Boxall (New Zealand), Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago), Rasmus Schuller (Finland) and Franz Pangop and Bertrand Owundi Eko'o (both with Cameroon).

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