Manny Lagos -- Roaming Sideline -- MNUFC
Courtesy of Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United restructures sporting department ahead of 2020 MLS season

A few weeks after recording their best season in MLS, Minnesota United have announced several changes to their front office.

Sporting director Manny Lagos will be named chief soccer officer and continue to oversee the club’s sporting department, while assistant coach Mark Watson will be named technical director and oversee all first team roster duties. Additionally, head athletic trainer Stacey Hardin will serve as Minnesota’s senior director of player health and performance. 

“When we entered MLS in 2017, our first priorities were the development and foundation of our first team roster and the construction and opening of Allianz Field. Having successfully achieved those objectives, we felt it was important to restructure parts of our sporting department in order to continue to grow and evolve as a club,” said Minnesota CEO Chris Wright in a statement. “Making these moves now prepares us for what’s ahead as we further develop the vision for our academy, a potential reserve team and the enhancement of our training facility. All of this demands an incredible amount of thought, planning and focus. We all believe this restructure will give us that.”

The announcement comes after a report last week in The Athletic, which originally outlined that head coach Adrian Heath would be given increased say over roster decisions. 

Also detailed in the club’s announcement is how Lagos will help to further develop Minnesota’s academy, the club’s second team and their developing sports science and sports medicine department. Meanwhile, Watson is overseeing the first-team scouting department, overall roster development and contract negotiations. Hardin will lead the Loons' performance team, plus serve as a key player in the strategic development of the club.

Minnesota reached the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2019, and were also runners-up in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. Two additions this season, goalkeeper Vito Mannone and defender Ike Opara, won their respective positions' top individual awards. They were also named to the 2019 MLS Best XI.

The 2019 season represented the culmination of a much-discussed "three-year plan" for Minnesota. That coincided with the opening of the club's new soccer-specific stadium, Allianz Field. With the club gaining traction in year No. 3, the aim will be to push on and become perennial contenders.

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