2020 Season Preview: Minnesota United

After a club record 2019, Minnesota United are looking to stay among the Western Conference elite ... by ringing in some changes for 2020. The players out include 2019 Goalkeeper of the Year Vito Mannone as well as two Designated Players in Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez. 

Their defensive core returns for 2020, as well as some exciting new attacking talent. After riding one of the league's best defensive units to their first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoff berth, Minnesota aim to be more balanced.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 53 points (15W-11L-8D), 4th in West / 7th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Western Conf. Round One (vs. LA Galaxy)
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Final (vs. Atlanta United)

Star players

  • Ike Opara — The leader of Minnesota's defensive overhaul from one of the worst in the league to one of the best, Opara earned 2019 Defender of the Year in his first season with the Loons. What will he have as an encore?
  • Ozzie Alonso — Alonso joined alongside Opara last offseason and continued his accustomed stellar play in defensive midfield. The 34-year-old looked like the peak version of himself last year and hopes to show he still has plenty left in the tank. 
  • Romain Metanire —The marauding fullback locked down the position immediately after arriving last year, en route to an All-Star appearance and excelling at the African Cup of Nations.

Extratime Analysis: Minnesota United

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Luis Amarilla — Notice how all three key players are defense-minded? Amarilla may figure on that list before season's end. The 24-year-old forward led the Paraguayan league in goals last year and comes to Minnesota full of confidence.
  • IN: Tyler Miller — MIller's LAFC where one of the few teams to concede fewer goals in 2019 than the Loons and lands with big shoes to fill as he replaces last season's Goalkeeper of the Year.
  • OUT: Darwin Quintero — Minnesota's first-ever DP was traded to the Houston Dynamo this offseason, ending the exciting attacker's time with Minnesota after he was left out of the club's starting lineup for both the US Open Cup final and their Round One playoff match.
  • OUT: Vito Mannone — Player and club couldn't reach an agreement to make Mannone's loan stay a permanent one and the goalkeeper has landed in Denmark in the meantime. 

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (4): Fred Emmings, Tyler Miller, Greg Ranjitsingh, Dayne St. Clair
  • Defenders (7): Jose Aja, Noah Billingsley, Michael Boxall, Chase Gasper, Brent Kallman, Romain Metanire, Ike Opara
  • Midfielders (11): Osvaldo Alonso, Thomas Chacon, Hassani Dotson, Raheem Edwards, Ethan Finlay, Jan Gregus, Marlon Hairston, Jacori Hayes, Robin Lod, Kevin Molino, James Musa
  • Forwards (3): Luis Amarilla, Aaron Schoenfeld, Mason Toye

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: They brought back the entire back six from one of the best defensive teams in the league last year, and most of those guys are still in their respective primes while last year’s rookies – left back Chase Gasper and right back/d-mid Hassani Dotson – should both take a step forward. They also got younger and arguably better at goalkeeper and center forward.
  • Weakness: This team scored 11 goals in their final 11 games across all competitions and shipped out their most talented attacking player (for understandable reasons, but still). So far there’s no replacement for Darwin Quintero, and while their center forward rotation should be better this year it’s not exactly clear who’s going to be creating chances for them.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 7th in West
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 10th in West
  • Calen Carr: 4th in West
  • Charlie Davies: 3rd in West
  • Matt Doyle: 7th in West
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 6th in West
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 6th in West
Series: 

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