- Minnesota have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league this season but are outside the playoffs. What has to change, either this year or next year, to make the Loons a playoff team?
For me, the number one thing revolving around our playoff push is consistency. Adrian Heath has recently committed to the 3-5-2 where Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo and and Michael Boxall play in a back three. That back three has proved to be the best defensive display we have put on this season, because of their strength and mobility to clear the ball and maintain composure in their own end. Darwin Quintero has been a revelation for our side, and he is already the best player to ever put on an MNUFC uniform. Miguel Ibarra has returned to the form that brought him to the USMNT two years ago and his compatriot, Christian Ramirez, is currently returning to form. Ramirez had a slow start to the season, but if he can continue his hot streak... teams should look out. If we can stay injury free for the rest of the season, while continuing to put up 2-3 goals a game, a playoff push can be done. The most important factor surrounding our playoff push however, is road games. We have to, and I repeat, we have to start winning on the road. This next month will test our squad more than ever before.
2. Minnesota have conceded almost as many goals as Vancouver. What’s going wrong?
The beginning of the season was a mess for us. Francisco Calvo was in the worst form of his life(maybe..) and his play on the field was unacceptable. Injuries to Sam Cronin, Ethan Finlay, Kevin Molino, Marc Burch and Jerome Theisson also weakened our back line and created gaping holes in the squad. Heath couldn’t commit to a single starting XI, and he was moving players around weekly on the field. There was zero consistency in any part of the pitch, and the chemistry in the squad wasn’t viable until we reached the month of June. Highlighting the worst moment for us was our game against the NYRB. It was an awful display and it showed every fault we had within our squad. Overall, our squad was conceding goals due to inconsistency, lack of chemistry and injuries. Injuries have haunted us for the whole season and they will continue to until 2019.
3. Who is a Minnesota player that Whitecaps fans may not know about but should be more aware of?
Brent Kallman. He is a monster on the back line, and you have probably never heard of him. Kallman has been with United since it’s NASL days along with Ibarra and Ramirez. He didn’t find a spot in the starting XI until Calvo left for the World Cup, and once he returned, Heath switched to the 3-5-2 so he could play both of them. Kallman is a leader on and off the field, a fan favorite and most of all, a straight up badass. Kallman has the ability to shut down strikers, and will make every effort possible to make that last ditch tackle and/or track back to save his teammate from being embarrassed. The 6’2 Woodbury, MN native should be on Kei Kamara’s radar coming into Saturday night, as well as you, Vancouver fans.