Minnesota United Head Coach Adrian Heath was all smiles after the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft last Friday. The former Orlando City boss spoke with me about his departure from Orlando, the importance of having assistant coaches you trust, and the Phil Rawlins era ending in Orlando.
Once he was finished with the four-hour-plus draft, Heath opened up about his time with Orlando.
It will be a new experience in Minnesota for you after spending six years with Orlando. What's it like for you to build this new team in a new city?
Adrian Heath: “Well I think it’s never easy leaving a club when you’ve been there that long. I was obviously very bitterly disappointed when I left, didn’t agree with the decision then, and still don’t agree with it, but that’s what’s happened and we move on. I’ve moved to a really good club, I’m really happy with the people I’m working with, people I’m working for, and I think we have a great opportunity to build something really special. I’ve spoken long and hard with the people that own the club and they’ve got a great vision for what they see the club in the next few years. We’ve got a brand new stadium coming up in the next 18 months, which will probably be the best in MLS. We’re doing work now on the training facility, so it’s exciting times.”
You've brought your old coaching staff in with Mark Watson and Ian Fuller. How important is it to have that comfort level, having guys that you can trust?
AH: “Well, that’s what it is, it’s a comfort level that you know that these are the people that have got your back, who work with you, and who know how you like to work. It’s difficult sometimes when you bring new staff in. It takes you quite a while to get to know each other fully and they know how you like to work, they know what my enthusiasm is like, they know what my temperament is like. They have really good foils for how I like to work and they’re good coaches in their own right, but I think they’re a really good fit for me.”
Going back to Orlando now, you have Phil stepping down from day-to-day operations and becoming the life-president of the club. What are your thoughts on that?
AH: “Well, I think think any club that loses the services on a day-to-day man like Phil Rawlins will suffer. I know how much he’s put into that club over the last five to six years. For him it was a labor of love, that was a 24/7 job for him, so Alex Leitão has some big shoes to fill. It won’t be easy. So, it’s not a great day for them but I know Phil will be about and keep his eye on what’s going on, but some big, big shoes to fill.”