First year in MLS, and unlike Orlando two years ago they didn’t bring many of their NASL guys up to MLS. This is a brand new roster.
Everyone is new, but the biggest deal they made is the $650,000 worth of Garber-bucks they shipped to Orlando City for Kevin Molino. Clearly, Adrian Heath valued Molino from his experience in Orlando and believes he will be the centerpiece of the Loons’ attack. They also used the #1 pick in the Superdraft for Forward Abu Danladi. Maybe more interesting than the transactions they’ve made are the ones they haven’t. So far the Loons look to be one of the few teams in MLS without a Designated Player next year.
Heath has always stuck with a 4-2-3-1 and that’s likely to continue as he attempts to build chemistry with this bare bones roster. In the attack, Miguel Ibarra and Johan Venegas will be on the wing, and Molino will be up the middle. The biggest question facing fantasy players for Minnesota is at forward. Christian Ramirez is one of the few who Minnesota brought with them from NASL to MLS but he’ll face competition from #1 pick Danladi. Danladi of course has the bigger upside, but betting on rookies to start in Week 1 is always a tricky business. Pay close attention in preseason to see if Heath has Danladi and Ramirez in a battle for a lone forward spot or whether he changes his tactics to try to get them both on the field.
In the back, Minnesota is as deep as your kid’s blow-up pool. They did sign Costa Rican international Francisco Calvo from Saprissa. While it’s always difficult to translate skills from Costa Rican play to MLS, the defender has a reputation for scoring goals from set pieces, with 9 goals and an assist in 28 matches. As he seems to likely play center back for the Loons in 2017, his offensive potential and bonus points could make him an interesting play.
Starting Lineup Prediction
Do you want to know the chances of failure? Because they’re high. Very high.
This is an expansion that was announced very late in the process. They’re still filling out their roster as camp has started, which isn’t the best sign. The total lack of chemistry and lack of skill on the backline should mean Minnesota will concede a lot of goals and lose a lot of matches. The bigger question is how many goals they score. The optimistic fan looks at Molino’s 11 goals and 8 assists and expects continued production on that level. However, it’s hard to assume Danladi/Ramirez will provide Molino the same type of passes that Larin did in Orlando.
Minnesota is going to be bad. This is a team you’re likely looking at only if you’re in need of some differentials for most of the year.