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Adrian Heath to coach Minnesota United in first MLS season

It's official: Adrian Heath is the new coach for Minnesota United FC, charged with leading the team into its first season of Major League Soccer play.

Heath, 55, was introduced by United Sporting Director Manny Lagos at a news conference Tuesday morning at the team's Golden Valley headquarters.

Lagos called it a "historic day for Minnesota sports."

Heath, in his opening remarks, said he was "delighted to be here" and that he "can't wait to get started." He also indicated that he steps into a situation with "a lot of similarities to what we did in Orlando."

Heath previously coached the MLS franchise in Orlando from 2008 until this past July. He guided that club through a similar transition from one league to another, taking it from the United Soccer League to MLS in 2015. His team was 16-18-16 in 1 1/2 seasons of MLS play.

Heath, from England, played for English clubs Stoke City and Everton in the 1980s. He began coaching for the English side Burnley in 1996. He later coached at Sheffield United.

Heath takes over as the club prepares for the Dec. 13 expansion draft of players made available by other MLS teams. Atlanta, which enters MLS with Minnesota in 2017, holds the first pick. Minnesota drafts second, and the teams alternate picks for the remainder of the five-round draft. The list of eligible players and free agents will be released on Dec. 12.

Minnesota holds the first pick in the college SuperDraft taking place Jan. 13.
Training camps open Jan. 23. United has not said publicly where it plans to train. Minnesota will play the 2017 season and part of the 2018 season at TCF Bank Stadium before moving into a new home in St. Paul.

Minnesota has played for several seasons in the North American Soccer League. Before the 2016 season, Lagos moved from his longtime position as coach into the role of sporting director and the team tapped Carl Craig, previously an assistant coach, as head coach for the season. He led the Loons to a 11-13-8 record. The team remained in the North American Soccer League playoff hunt until a loss in the season's final match.