Minnesota United 2017 Review
It could have been worse. Coming out of the gate, the Loons were decimated. To their credit, the Loons quickly moved to bench their captain Vadim Demidov. In the summer, the Loons brought in Ethan Finlay who scored a few goals upon his arrival. What was suspected to be the worst team in MLS history managed to beat a few teams in the standings and seemed to have a better foundation than expected to build upon for next year.
Out: Venegas was loaned to Saprissa
IN: Uuuhhhh….Harrison Heath? They were in a lot of conversations that ultimately didn’t work out (Asad and Kljestan the most prominent). They still are getting linked, but at this point you need to see a guy holding a jersey before believing the Loons have gotten a deal closed.
Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture
My lineup is based on last year, as the new faces haven’t inspired Loons fans with a lot of confident that they can displace them. However, there are wrinkles to this. First, this lineup leaves out Abu Danladi, and I can see Heath try to trot out Danladi more frequently in his sophomore season. Second, the Loons are clearly after a number 10. After missing out on Sacha, they are now pursuing Nicolas Benedetti. If that happens, Kevin Molino’s fate is unclear as he would be competing naturally with Finlay.
Minnesota had the offensive talent to be a possession team, but their poor backline outside of Francisco Calvo has necessitated a conservative approach. Heath favored a 4-4-1-1 last year, but may experiment with different lineups to try to get Danladi and possibly Molino if they get a new 10 some minutes.
Closing Fantasy Thoughts & 2018 Expectations
With the team being mostly unchanged from this point, I’d expect about the same. Calvo was a decent bonus point generator if you didn’t mind risking the negatives from goals allowed, but Finlay, Ibson and Cristian Ramirez all offered discount prices that can allow you to fill out your roster. That’s what I’m expecting again this year as I expect the Loons to continue to score fairly decently but be dragged to well outside the playoff picture by their backline.