Editorial (August 6, 2018) – With the new signings, this summer and the return of injured starters, Minnesota United FC may have a different feel to it next season. Let’s do a deep dive into how could Minnesota United FC look next year.
How will Minnesota United FC look next season?
As discussed previously, the Loons have a number of injured players coming back in the squad. However, with the two new signings of Romario Ibarra and new designated player Angelo Rodriguez, the squad will look even more different next year. The biggest change easily will be not having fan favorite and long-time Loon Christian Ramirez in the squad. This article will go through each position group and how they will possibly look next season.
This analysis is with the hope that Minnesota United FC will find a USL affiliate next year or loan out more of it players. This article is also under the assumption that the Loons continue to operate in the 3-5-2 formation that they have been using as of late.
Starters- Angelo Rodriguez, Darwin Quintero
Bench- Abu Danladi
Loan- Mason Toye
This may be the hardest position to figure out with the two designated players Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez in this group. Danladi and Toye are more likely to stick around due to them being on Generation Adidas contracts. Toye is more likely of the two to go on loan as he is only 19-years-old and only played one year at Indiana University. More playing time might be more beneficial for him then for Danladi. Danladi’s biggest struggle so far is his inability to stay healthy. If he can stay healthy he has shown he can produce in this league. With Ramirez’s departure, Danladi is now the primary backup at striker. His performance the rest of the season could determine if MNUFC brings in competition at the position.
Starters- Romario Ibarra, Miguel Ibarra
Bench- Ethan Finley, Kevin Molino
Not Returning- Alexi Gomez
This position group may be even harder than the forwards to figure out. When Molino and Finley return from injury there will be four starting-caliber wingers and ideally only two starting spots. Right now the starting spots go to the Ibarras due to the other two still having to return from ACL tears. When Molino returns he could move to a more central role like the one he played the previous years, but some think that winger is his best position. There is a possibility that Finley or Molino could be traded or perhaps sign elsewhere.
Alexi Gomez has not been a good pickup and has been inconsistent all year. The Loons would be wise to not pick up his buying option and let him return to his previous club. This would open up a valuable international spot that the club could better use elsewhere.
Starters- Rasmus Schuller, Collen Warner, New Defensive Midfielder(#6)
Bench- Collin Martin, New Signing, Frantz Pangop
Not returning- Sam Cronin, Ibson, Johan Venegas, Maximiniano
Sadly it appears that Sam Cronin’s playing days are over due to his issue with concussions. Ibson is getting to where is age is going to affect his game and the Loons could find a replacement for him. Also, it does not feel like Venegas is going to come back from his loan to Saprissa. Adrian Heath seems like he brought Maximiniano to be a starter and/or more of a contributor but so far this season he has been a late-game substitute for the most part.
Collin Martin has a good spot-starter/substitute this season and still has room to develop. Frantz Pangop has not seen as much playing time as Martin but also still has room to develop. Minnesota United would be wise to keep them both for developmental/depth purposes.
Signing an MLS veteran midfielder or a TAM signing in the offseason might be a good option for the club. The central midfield of the Loons could look very different next year.
Starters- Fransico Calvo, Micheal Boxall, Brett Kallman
Bench- Carter Manley, New Signing, Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, Jerome Theisson, Eric Miller
Loan- Wyatt Omsberg
Not Returning- Tyrone Mears, Marc Burch
Assuming that the Loons remain in the 3-5-2 formation, Calvo, Boxall, and Kallman retain their starting spot. Signing another central defender to provide competition for the trio would be a beneficial move for the club. Perhaps using the money from the Ramirez sale?
Manley showed well enough at the beginning of the season to bring back next season for depth. Manley was also recently loaned to the Las Vegas Lights of the USL for more playing time, which will hopefully help his development.
Starters- Bobby Shuttleworth
Bench- Matt Lampson, Alex Kapp
The goalkeeper situation in Minnesota seems pretty stable. Bobby Shuttleworth has kept the Loons in games this season and will most likely keep his starting spot. Matt Lampson has been a capable backup and spot starter for the team. He may leave to perhaps pursue a starting spot elsewhere in the league. Alex Kapp is young enough at 23 and seems like a good keeper for the Loons to develop for the future.