ST. PAUL — Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath and midfielder Jan Gregus refrained from sharing their true views of goalkeeper Tyler Miller’s new mustache, but both agreed, with the Loons winning in the MLS is Back Tournament, it shouldn’t be shaved for superstition sake.
“Oh, my god, I can’t really tell you what I think about it,” Gregus said. “Because (laughs) it looks … awkward. But I told him, there is no chance for him to shave it now.”
Miller’s new look was front and center on ESPN moments after he saved Columbus’ final penalty kick attempts, from midfielder Chris Cadden, in Tuesday’s round of 16 match. The stop helped propel Minnesota to win 5-3 on PKs and advance to the quarterfinals against San Jose Earthquakes at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.
After the save, Miller smirked and ran a gloved hand along the ‘stache.
“I was having fun and I was enjoying playing and I was able to make a save, so I wanted to keep the mood light,” he said. “That is what this is all about. Yeah, we are playing a game in the middle of a pandemic, but just trying to enjoy it.”
Miller said he grew it out of boredom in the MLS bubble in Orlando, Fla., after forward Aaron Schoenfeld sported a mustache for a few days and was coaxing for companions.
“He was begging me each game to join him in the mustache trend, so I told him for the last group-stage game I would do it,” Miller said.
Heath said it was “best staying out” of sharing his views of the “mustache stakes.”
“Obviously the players have been having plenty of fun about it,” Heath said. “I don’t know how long it’s been growing; it didn’t look too thick the other night, but I think he’s got to grow it as long as we are in the tournament. We’ll see what it’s like at the end.”
Loons all-star right back Romain Metanire will be a game-time decision Saturday, Heath said Thursday. Metanire exited Tuesday’s game against Columbus with a left hamstring injury suffered when making a run in the second half.
Heath said Metanire was at training Thursday, but didn’t share how much he participated.
Without Metanire, the Loons would lose one of their potent attackers along the right side with Ethan Finlay as well as defender who would be counted on to slow down the Earthquakes wide players. San Jose’s wingers have been pivotal with critical goals in the past three games.
“They stretch the field out enormously,” Heath said. “… They have got threats and people that can run with the ball and beat people. Whoever plays out there, if Romain doesn’t make it, will have a challenge on.’
Marlon Hairston, usually a midfielder, replaced Metanire against the Crew.
The Loons selected right back Noah Bullingsley with the 18th pick in the MLS draft in January, but the New Zealand defender has not been available for an undisclosed reason.
Kevin Molino also will be a game-day decision Saturday, Heath said. The Loons’ central attacking midfielder missed the Crew game with a hamstring injury, which he suffered in the first half of the final group-stage game against Colorado Rapids on July 22.