Who are Minnesota United aka the Loons? Just another MLS expansion club? 2016 brought in 2 new clubs into the MLS fold: Minnesota United and Atlanta United. That’s about where the commonality ends.
Yes, our beloved Marius Rovde left the Caps to join Minnesota’s coaching staff, and Residency graduate Marco Carducci trialled with them before being released and joining Rio Grande Valley FC in USL.
Rather than take the usual approach, I put my spin on the questions:
86F: Other than stabilizing a dreadful backline, how much have (Marc) Burch and (Sam) Cronin meant to the team?
EPL: I mean, Marc Burch was injured not long after the trade but he was certainly an upgrade simply by being an experienced MLS defender. Sam Cronin, on the other hand, has brought so many things to the team. He has been the club's leader and heartbeat since coming over from Colorado. He controls the midfield and he dictates the offense. One of the Loons' biggest issues this season has been the midfield play, but Cronin has been a bright spot.
86F: Being expansion cousins, Minnesota and Atlanta will always be compared to each other. Do you think the Loons took the right approach (budget vs DP signings)?
EPL: I don't think that "right" is the word choice that I would use. Part of the budget spending has been more about the new soccer-specific stadium being built in St. Paul. Am I jealous of the results that Atlanta United has gotten this season? Definitely. But I think the budget approach has had its advantages. MNUFC certainly has pieces in place for the future, and the team has honestly done better than I expected (by a whopping 1 win, but still.) I think ATL had a much longer time to prepare for MLS and they certainly decided to spend on players as Almiron was one of the largest transfer fees in league history, but I can't know Minnesota for taking the "cheap" approach. And I think this will all pay off in the end if the Allianz Stadium is gorgeous.
86F: Even though the results haven’t been there, do you think the Loons 2 preseason trips to Portland were beneficial? Why or why not?
EPL: I mean, it certainly wasn't detrimental, but I cannot say the team would be in a much worse position than if they did not head West. I think it was beneficial for the team in that they were able to get acquainted with each other, but the roster has been so fluid that I think it is hard to say for sure.
Having been to parts of both pre-season tournaments, I saw enough of Minnesota United before them coming into MLS to see that their approach was going to be similar to that of Vancouver and Portland moreso than Seattle.
It should be an interesting match on Wednesday.