Editorial (November 21, 2018) — Minnesota United FC‘s second season in Major League Soccer ended just like its first, devoid of the playoffs. But there are quite a few things to be excited about regarding the club’s ability to contend for the postseason in 2019. This is particularly true in the attack and will be discussed in this review of the 2018 season.
Minnesota United FC 2018 Season Review
Final record: 11-20-3 (36 points)
10th in the Western Conference
Team MVP: Darwin Quintero
When Darwin Quintero was signed, it gave the Loons a much-needed spark on offense. He gave the Loons pace and flair that they had not had since coming into MLS. He single-handedly took over games such as the Toronto FC match, where he scored a hat-trick to help the Loons to a win. The offense went through Quintero as evidenced by him leading the team with 11 goals and 14 assists. His performance was often correlated with the outcome for the Loons.
Miguel Ibarra should also garner some consideration for MVP. He contributed seven goals and eight assists for the Loons. Where he is the most valuable, however, is his tremendous work rate. During the Loons time in the 3-5-2, Ibarra contributed positively in both phases of the game. Even when the Loons changed to the 4-2-3-1, Ibarra still contributed in both phases even though he was positioned in a more advanced position.
What Went Wrong in 2018
The defense needed to improve from the previous year and to put it simply, it didn’t. The defense actually got statistically worse allowing one more goal than the previous season, which at the time was the most goals allowed in an MLS season at 71 goals. If not for Orlando City allowing 74 goals in this season, the Loons defense would have set another record.
There were many upset fans when the front office sold fan favorite Christian Ramirez to Los Angeles Football Club for up to $1 million. This was likely of the result of signing Designated Player Angelo Rodriguez. Although Rodriguez showed promise with four goals and an assist, there was still doubt cast upon the front office after the sale of Ramirez.
What Went Right in 2018
Unlike the Loons defense, their offense did improve from the past year. The main catalyst for this was Quintero. The 31-year-old Colombian gave pace and flair to the offense, which it was often lacking in the previous year. Club icon Miguel Ibarra also had an impressive year as discussed above. He posted his numbers while splitting time between winger and wing-back when the club tried the 3-5-2 for a while.
New signings Angelo Rodriguez and Romario Ibarra both showed promise for next year. However, they were both inconsistent at times, whether it be from injury or lack of match fitness. Romario looked especially promising during his two-goal performance against the Portland Timbers in September.
Minnesota United also seemed to find the defensive midfielder they had been needing in Brazilian Fernando Bob. Bob and fellow countryman Maximiniano appeared as the midfield duo in the last months of the season. Bob impressed with his passing and Maxi with his ball-winning but both have room for improvement.
Along with Fernando Bob and Maximiniano manning the midfield down the stretch, MNUFC seemed to have found Francisco Calvo’s best position at left-back. Left-back allows Calvo to use his ball-handling skills to get forward and cover up his possible aerial weakness.
What they need to do to improve in 2019 (for non-playoff teams, make the playoffs, for playoff teams be a trophy contender)
To put it simply, Minnesota United FC Loons must improve their defense, whether it be through personnel or scheme change. A team cannot set a record for the most goals given up in a season one season, almost beat it the next, and expect to compete for the playoffs.