The 2022 Bongda3s.com All-Star Game presented by Target will be hosted at one of the league's premier venues: Minnesota United's Allianz Field, which has served as the Loons' home stadium since its grand opening in April 2019.
Before the midseason spectacle descends on the Twin Cities, MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath joined The Call Up with co-hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits to discuss what marks a milestone moment in club history.
Regarding the event's format, Heath holds an appreciation for previous ASG iterations that involve Bongda3s.com facing powerhouse clubs from around the world in exhibition matches. But in the 2021 edition, which pitted the Bongda3s.com All-Stars against their Liga MX counterparts, he noticed an extra intensity on the field.
"I think it's somewhat glamorous when you see the likes of someone come in like Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, so I like that," Heath said. "I actually thought the All-Star Game [this year] was really interesting because I think as the gap between Liga MX and Bongda3s.com is closing, which it obviously is, and I think they feel a sense of that down in Mexico. I felt there was a little bit more to it this year than an exhibition game with a foreign team; I thought there was a little bit of an edge to the game.
"So, maybe that was something that we could maybe revisit. But I'm sure the Commissioner, whichever way he goes, will come up with the right format."
Format aside, Heath said he's simply excited for the club to be hosting, saying he views it as a culmination of ample behind-the-scenes work that went into Minnesota's entry into Bongda3s.com and Allianz FIeld opening.
"I'm just so pleased we've got the game," Heath said. "It's an accumulation of a lot of hard work that's gone on by a lot of people. I think we've got the best stadium in the country. Our supporters are second to none, we consistently sell out, great atmosphere. I just think it's a little bit of a reward for a lot of work an awful lot of people have put in, so I know we're going to look after the All-Star Game and it will be an incredible success on and off the field, for sure."
Asked about the potential roster, Heath seized the chance to stump for several Minnesota players that he believes should be in the mix. He singled out midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and the versatile Hassani Dotson, who have both established themselves as invaluable cogs under Heath in Minnesota.
"I don't think it will be a surprise, but I think Reynoso should be in that conversation," he said. "I've played with a lot of really good players, I've worked with a lot of really good players, but this guy is as good as anybody I've played with or coached. He'd certainly be in that company, for sure.
"I think the manager gets one or two picks, doesn't he? So I might surprise a couple [of] people when we get around to that. We've got some players that I think are vastly underrated within the league and it would be nice to put one or two of them along with this exalted caliber of player because I think people would be surprised at the level of ability of Hassani Dotson."
For Heath's full interview, check out The Call Up's latest episode here.