Author: Simon Borg | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
The Loons — get used to this nickname after the Minnesota state bird — are one of two expansion teams entering MLS in 2017. But contrary to their counterparts Atlanta United, who spent big money on young Designated Players, MNUFC have gone about their business quietly, steadily piecing together a squad that will feature several interesting prospects. Their challenge, however, will be coming together as a team in the hope of defying expectations.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Abu Danladi (F)
Josh Gatt (M)
Miguel Ibarra (M)
Kevin Molino (M/F)
Christian Ramirez (F)
Johan Venegas (M/F)
Player to watch: Christian Ramirez
No American forward has scored more goals than Christian Ramirez in the last three seasons: 51 goals. So it's no wonder Minnesota United had to beat out Mexican league clubs to sign him to an MLS deal. But all of Ramirez's goals came in the second division, meaning he'll have a chip on his shoulder to show he's MLS star quality and deserving of the faith.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - ADRIAN HEATH
Energy, passion and uptempo, end-to-end soccer. That was the trademark of Heath's team in Orlando and early signs are that will also be the M.O. in Minnesota. While they want to grow into a possession team, MNUFC have the players to operate in quick transition and goals might not ultimately prove a problem. The question is whether they'll be able to keep them out on the other end, something Heath's sides struggled with in Orlando.
Projected Starting XI
4-2-3-1, right to left: John Alvbage (GK) — Jermaine Taylor (D), Vadim Demidov (D), Francisco Calvo (D), Justin Davis (D) — Collen Warner (M), Rasmus Schuller (M) — Kevin Molino (M), Johan Venegas (M), Miguel Ibarra (M) – Christian Ramirez (F)
11th in Western Conference. Here’s the positive to being picked to finish last in your conference to start the season: No pressure! If the backline can hold steady and the goalkeeper is consistently reliable enough to keep them in games, this is a team that has the attacking pieces to overachieve.