Everton legend Adrian Heath’s Minnesota United exited the MLS play-offs at the first hurdle, losing 2-1 to LA Galaxy on Monday morning.

Heath had guided Minnesota to a place in the play-offs for the first time in their history with two games to spare, but the Loons suffered heartache as Galaxy advance to meet LAFC in an El Trafico semi-final.

The 58-year-old scored 93 goals in over 300 games for the Blues, winning two league titles, an FA Cup, four charity shields and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan Dos Santos each netted second-half goals for the five-time MLS Cup winners, with Jan Gregus’ late strike for Minnesota proving to be little more than a consolation.

Reaching the play-offs capped a remarkable turnaround for Heath who initially struggled with the Loons following his appointment in 2016.

Appointed just four months after being sacked by Orlando City, Heath found a lack of investment difficult as the newly promoted club set a Western Conference record by conceding 70 goals, before following it up with 71 the following year.

Just one year later, the Loons secured a play-off berth and despite ultimately suffering disappointment at Allianz Field, Heath spoke of his pride after the defeat.

“We didn’t have enough quality in the final third, I don’t know how many crosses we put in, we just didn’t do enough to get on the end of stuff,” Heath told mlssoccer.com.

“I’m really proud of the guys, they put in a great shift again and you could tell that the desperation, they were defending really late on and when you consider how we’ve played, it’s a marker or how far we’ve come.”

Heath believes that his side are well positioned to compete in the Western Conference in the coming seasons, but insists that the Loons continue to strengthen in the off-season.

In a Q&A with The Athletic, Heath said: “When I look at where we were to where we are, I know that we’re not where I want us to be.

“We’re still three or four players short of that. That would then put us in a position where we can compete.

“If you stand still in this league, you go backwards. It’s not going to get any easier. We have to keep moving forward and just keep incrementally getting better, which is what we’ve done.”

Picture by Wilson Wong under Creative Commons Licence