Category Archives: Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United v Atlanta United

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 31: 0-1 Loss

Two Uniteds meet again in the frigid cold. One dominates in possession and manpower. The other scores. Or did they?

Last season, Minnesota United lost their inaugural MLS home match to fellow expansion team Atlanta United, 6 – 1, on a league-record breaking, cold and snowy day, known simply as the “Snow Opener” (or “Snowpener” if you’re saving characters on Twitter). In the second home match of their second MLS season, Minnesota had a much different showing. But they still lost. So what went wrong?

The Loons were set up for an attack-heavy game, with a recovered Abu Danladi starting at forward in the preferred 4-2-3-1. Speed was favored over Christian Ramirez’s size up front. But Atlanta came out with a 3-4-1-2 setup, fronted by Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, to exploit Minnesota’s defensive weaknesses. The focus on speed led to a frantic start, with Atlanta drawing a yellow card before the first minute mark.

Shortly thereafter, Atlanta scored on a corner, when a ball blocked by Matt Lampson was then redirected by Minnesota defenseman Francisco Calvo. His own-goal would seal the game.

Minnesota fans rightfully expected the game to turn around after Atlanta’s Gonzalez Pirez was sent off in the 37th minute. Surely the Loons couldn’t lose a match in which they would go on to dominate with 70.7 percent possession and while up a man.

Unfortunately, Danladi’s youth and speed did not figure into this match. He had some great attempts in the box, attempting to flick the ball around Atlanta’s defense, but seemed lost in the sea of peach-and-white. Ramirez, subbing in late, looked more comfortable in the box, but again saw no results. Rookie Mason Toye also looked dangerous in his few touches but has yet to find the net.

However, while both sides were focused on playing up high, chipping away at every gap in the other’s backline, Atlanta did the best job of closing in within the box. Despite being down a man, Atlanta fought off a number of crosses and keeper Brad Guzan put in a solid night’s work of blocking dangerous chances.

Saturday’s 1-0 loss was definitely an improvement over the “Snowpener” result. Coach Adrian Heath told the press after the match, “Overall, I’m absolutely delighted with my players […] and I feel for them tonight because they did not deserve to come out of the game with nothing.”

On why Atlanta succeeded where Minnesota didn’t: “We must have put seven or eight crosses in the box and I didn’t see anybody getting across the front of anybody […] Yeah, they (Atlanta) were a little bit dangerous on the counterattack. That’s what you get when you spend millions and millions of dollars on players.”

Next week, the Loons have a much-needed bye week. After time for recovery and training, we may discover exactly what potential this year’s squad might have.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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A loomery of Loons lost to the Red Bulls on Saturday night

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 24: 3-0 Loss

The key word in the title is not ‘lost’; the key word is ‘loomery’ – a breeding place for loons.

With nearly half of this season’s featured starters out on injury or international duty, the back four in Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 looked quite a bit different. Jerome Thiesson (hip), Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica), Michael Boxall (New Zealand) and Tyrone Mears (calf)  were replaced by Marc Burch, Wyatt Omsberg, Brent Kallman and Carter Manley, respectively. In addition, Collen Warner took the place of Schuller (Finland) beside Ibson in the backfield.

Between the rookies, Omsberg and Manley, and the off-the-bench players, Burch and Kallman playing their first full 90 of 2018, no one expected the backline to be as successful as the missing four have shown over the first three matches of the season. And, in the end, they weren’t. However, up against a team like the New York Red Bulls, they could have done a lot worse than the 3-0 loss this weekend.

Consider this: Last season, Minnesota United lost their first meeting with the Red Bulls by three goals to none. (Two of those goals were scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Alex Muyl, who both made the scoresheet this weekend.) The Loons were considered fully staffed, with newcomers Boxall and Nicholson joining Kallman, Thiesson, Calvo, Ibarra, and Molino.

Fans were understandably upset that this weekend’s rematch resulted in an identical scoreline. However:

  • Despite repeatedly losing one-on-one matchups in the box, Kallman was a vocal leader on the backline, supporting and uplifting the rookies for the full 90, pushing everyone to regroup after their defensive mistakes.
  • Sure, United keeper Matt Lampson conceded three goals, but he also made a handful of key saves against a patented Wright-Phillips attack which could easily have scored at least two more.
  • While Nicholson and Finlay failed to replicate the magic they made at home last weekend, they never stopped trying. In fact, Finlay sent some beautiful crosses through the box and sent a howler into the crossbar in the final minutes.
  • Yes, Heath pulled Ibarra and Ramirez from the game after they repeatedly failed to find the space behind Connor Lade, Tim Duncan and Kyle Duncan. But it is unfair to expect that Ramirez would notch his first goal of the season against Luis Robles and a backline that has conceded a single goal this season.
  • And then the substitutes: Mason Toye, Abu Danladi (returning from injury) and Frantz Pangop (making his MNUFC debut) came on and were immediately a part of the attack. While their attempts toward goal were ultimately unsuccessful, they joined a team of Loons who were determined to fight together to the final whistle.

These are not the Loons of 2017, disjointed pieces failing to connect and communicate. This is a group determined to grow together, to fight together, to become a team with one shared purpose. From the veterans to the rookies to the new acquisitions, these guys want to work. Sometimes that isn’t good enough. But it isn’t a complete loss either.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Water dance of Loons snuff out Chicago Fire in opener

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 17: 2-1 Win

On Saturday night, Minnesota United FC put on a show for the sold-out black and blue and green clad crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, their temporary home on the campus of the U of M. Many feared a repeat of the 2017 home opener, when the Loons made their MLS debut in white-out conditions and gave up six goals, much too easily, to expansion rival Atlanta United. This home opener could not have been more different.

With speedy left winger Miguel Ibarra playing the central-mid role in place of Molino, flanked by Nicholson on his left and Finlay on his right, and communicating telepathically with withdrawn striker Christian Ramirez, the Loons were constantly pressing forward. Behind them, Schuller and Ibson were picking pockets left and right, choosing carefully their opportunities to send the ball forward. It was frustrating to watch that effort come to nothing the first half, especially with Chicago Fire’s attack, led by Nemanja Nikolic, outshooting Minnesota with five shots to two.

A last-second miscue or dispossession would dissolve the Loons’ momentum time after time. But still. They dominated. The shuffled lineup was cause for celebration by fans who were confused up to this point by Heath’s use of the bench. The midfield, in particular, a problem spot all last season and in the season opener in San Jose, earned the glory.

Without Ibson’s ridiculous footwork and dribbling, without Nicholson’s driving shoulder on the wing, without Ibarra’s speed and distribution, without Ramirez’s selfless hold-up plays, without Finlay’s crossing ability…

Ibson notched the first goal when he (for some bizarre reason) found himself on the receiving end of a Finlay cross in the 55th minute. Chicago keeper Sanchez got a glove on Ibson’s first shot but tipped it back his direction. Ibson made good on the second chance.

Chicago drew level at the 59th minute when the Loons’ defense seemed to lose their marks allowing Elliot Collier to rebound on a Nikolic shot and score in his league debut. The draw lit a fire under Minnesota, who all poured forward. Just seven minutes later, Finlay took off down the right wing and crossed the ball into the box meeting Nicholson, who snuck past a Fire line focused on the right wing. The midfielder pounced and launched a header past Sanchez who barely turned his head as the ball whistled past him.

Both sides had chances over the final minutes, but Minnesota’s defense held true and the squad continued pressing forward, refusing to ‘park the bus’, as they say. Instead, they said maybe.

The entire stadium seemed to hold a collective breath through stoppage time. Finally, the whistle sounded and 23,138 people (less the 200 Section 8 fans who traveled from Chicago) belted out Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ with their scarves held high.

Featured image courtesy: Bridget McDowell

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A cry of loons bests the pride of lions

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 10: 1-2 Win

Despite an identical lineup, the cry of Loons who appeared in Orlando Saturday was a different animal from last weekend. And this group announced their presence loud and clear.

I choose the collective noun ‘cry’ here over a handful of others for Minnesota’s state bird because the performance of this squad – their grit, heart, and perseverance – against Orlando City SC put a hopeful and enlightened tone on the season, much like the cry of our beloved loon does on a summer day.

Head coach Adrian Heath faced his former club with the same 4-2-3-1 he tried against San Jose Earthquakes last week, but with Christian Ramirez at forward in lieu of Danladi.

Center back Francisco Calvo anchored a backline that communicated well from the first whistle, closing gaps effectively and holding down the box. Ibson, who was not even a shadow of himself in the asylum against San Jose, pressed forward with each possession, pecking away at weaknesses in the Lions’ midfield, but did not take any unnecessary risks.

Mid Sam Nicholson worked the wide open left wing in his best showing to date, creating some hopeful chances of his own. And Kevin Molino was aggressive against his former club, assisting Ethan Finlay on a beautiful 12th-minute goal which spurred an even greater hunger to move forward.

But in the latter part of the first half, despite leading a depleted Lions squad, play went stale. It would pick up a bit after Orlando forward Stefano Pinho (a veteran of the NASL-era Loons) was stretchered off and the countdown to halftime began, only to devolve when an Orlando free kick was rescinded and replaced by a PK, thanks (or no thanks) to VAR, allowing Yoshimar Yotun to level the game for the Lions.

The second half began similarly, with play wallowing like a raft in waves. Molino had to be replaced by Collen Warner after a non-contact left knee injury. Also, Nicholson’s hamstring, a minor issue through the first half, finally saw him replaced by Miguel Ibarra. Ramirez was also pulled in favor of the fresh legs of rookie draft pick Mason Toye.

Toye and Ibarra were immediate factors, laying on the pressure up front and finding wide open shooting lanes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Ibarra received the ball from Toye and fired a cross toward the near post. It was met by a well-timed boot from Finlay for a stunning brace. From there, the Loons went into overdrive with a dopping of defense, dispossessing Lions in the box and forcing shots wide.

With Molino and others uncertain, Heath will undoubtedly have to go back to the ‘loonery’ to shore up his squad before the home opener. The club has a lot of improvements to make, but after watching this entire squad gut out the final minutes of this match, it is obvious that these players are determined to do whatever it takes to make 2018 a successful season.

Next up: The loon will cry out over Minneapolis on St Patrick’s Day. Can a water dance tame the Chicago Fire?

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Minnesota United kicks off the season vs San Jose Earthquakes

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 3-2 Loss

Had Minnesota United played the first 45 minutes anything like they played the final 20 minutes, the outcome would have been much different, but this one seemed decided before halftime.

While the 4-2-3-1 formation was not a surprise to fans who stuck with the Loons through a disappointing preseason, a few of the starting players in that formation were puzzling. Abu Danladi got the start at forward and Michael Boxall at center back while Christian Ramirez and Brent Kallman sat on the bench.

San Jose Earthquakes had a great chance early when Wondolowski and Hoesen broke through Minnesota’s backline in the 17th minute to flick the ball back and forth within the box. It was an easy save for keeper Matt Lampson, acquired by Minnesota from Chicago Fire in a SuperDraft trade. Minnesota claimed possession for a chance of their own when Ibson saw Ethan Finlay make a beautiful run toward the goal in the 20th minute only to slip within reach of San Jose’s Tarbell.

The game then slipped from reach.

San Jose’s Danny Hoesen was left open in front of Lampson and connected easily with a Wondalowski serve-in to put the Earthquakes up by one at 26′. Just a minute later, Vako was left unmarked and slotted the ball easily out of reach of Lampson toward the far post to go up 2-0.

Ramirez went in for an injured Danladi, got a few runs toward goal, but the Loons midfield just could not create plays. Rasmus Schuller spent more time racing back to collect wayward balls from Ibson than he did pushing forward as intended by this formation. Ramirez nearly left the game himself after a non-contact ankle roll but found his way back in time for a couple of free kicks just before the whistle.

The second half began much the same. A wayward shot (but a SHOT) by Ibson, a couple good looks for Ramirez, a goal… for Danny Hoesen.

With the Earthquakes up 3-0 one hour into the match, Kevin Molino, the Loons’ makeshift No. 10, found a few open lanes, but it took two pairs of fresh legs (Miguel Ibarra coming in for Ethan Finlay on the right side, Collen Warner for Ibson in midfield) before those lanes produced anything.

A cross from Jerome Thiesson in the 82nd minute found Ramirez at the edge of the box. Ramirez tapped it to Molino who drove it in for the first Minnesota goal of 2018. Just three minutes later, Molino found another gap and another easy finish to come within one.

With San Jose switching focus to defense and parking everybody in the box, Minnesota poured on the shots, most of which were easily blocked. Even Lampson came forward to assist with headers in the box, but there were simply too many bodies there.

The final urgency showed that the potential is there, but taking every decent shot in the final ten minutes is worthless without a focused midfield directing the ball forward from the first whistle. And that midfield is worthless without a defense that can’t close in on simple passes in the eighteen.

Minnesota fans, breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse. But it has to get better, much better, to avoid a repeat of last season.

Featured image courtesy: 

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The promise and panic of preseason for MNUFC

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

On February 13, Cameroonian international Frantz Pangop donned full Minnesota United FC kit for the first time and took part in the Loons’ production day. On the same day, the identity of his long-awaited countryman was revealed.

Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, a 24-year-old defender, joins United from Rainbow FC. Unlike with Pangop, I did not learn much about Owundi from the little footage I could find of him online. But Rainbow has been a popular talent pool for MLS scouts so I trust we will soon see what talent made him stand out.

While it is unclear how the newest left winger will fit into a roster heavy with left wingers, the intentions of the scouting team are becoming more clear: Potential over payout. Coach Adrian Heath stated for the press release that, “We felt it wasn’t a gamble, but an opportunity to bring in two young pieces for not a lot of financial output that we think have got huge upside.”

MNUFC’s latest signing is 22 year old Brazilian, Luiz Fernando, on a one-year loan from Fluminese FC with a buyout option in 2019. Fernando is expected to grow alongside Ibson and, in fact, shows similarities to his fellow Brazilian in respect to strong challenges and the ability to finesse the ball through tight spaces and out of the defensive third.

Speaking of thirds…

MNUFC went to the Carolina Challenge Cup to test out some new faces in new places. The Loons came home winless, having scored just one goal (earned on a penalty kick) in the preseason competition.

Their opening match against the USL’s Charleston Battery started off well with good possession and some strong challenges. But despite testing a 4-4-2 formation instead of Heath’s usual 4-2-3-1, the squad still managed to leave Abu Danladi isolated up front through the first half with little opportunity to score. The second half featured a fresh eleven, still in a 4-4-2. Ramirez and Pangop each got one decent look at goal, but the match ended in a stale 1-0 loss.

The second match, against expansion rival Atlanta United, looked a bit better, with newcomer Matt Lampson making some huge saves to put him in contention for the starting spot in goal and Kevin Molino hammered home (from the penalty spot) the first goal of the season. But an Ezequial Barco volley beat Lampson to tie the game and, despite some quick runs, the Loons just could not create chances in the final third to pull ahead.

Against Columbus Crew, a couple of errors by keeper Bobby Shuttleworth proved costly and the rest of the squad gave little effort to regain control of the ball after giving it away. Despite 2017’s leading scorer, Christian Ramirez, making his first start of the season, two goals from Columbus went unanswered.

Heath’s post-tournament assessment cited the squad’s failures in the final third. My first thought on the tactical change to a 4-4-2, from Heath’s favored 4-2-3-1, was that it would remedy the team’s 2017 problems in this area. Despite Rasmus Schuller and Jerome Thiesson each playing midfield conductor at times through the tournament, the guys just could not pull it together on the approach to the net.

Sure, it’s preseason. These games meant nothing. Despite two losses and a draw, the stat line remains 0-0-0. Maybe they were conserving their energy for the weeks ahead, the matches that matter.

The Loons’ season opener in San Jose on March 3 matters. And against the San Jose Earthquakes, a team whose tactics are built around the defense, any mistakes by the Loons in the final third will be magnified.

But, again, preseason performances mean nothing. It’s not the time to panic yet. First days are meant to be full of promise.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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An interview with Jeb Brovsky, Generation Footy

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Just days after the American football family threw its annual party for all the world to see, the world’s other football family received a gift of its own. From one of its own.

On February 7, semi-retired MLS footballer Jeb Brovsky launched Generation Footy, a lifestyle brand, blog, podcast and resource for all involved with the World’s Game. Its mission: Influence the Game. Amidst the endless debate over the future of US Soccer, Generation Footy aims to change the tone of our conversation.

“We have so many passionate soccer players, coaches and fans in this country but we are overwhelmed in the sea of bad ideas, useless conversations and complaining about what is WRONG with our system,” Brovsky told me.

“Being an American player who has come up through the youth, high school, college, pro ranks… I want to create a community of passionate game changers who are all committed to the success and growth of the game in this country. For me, this only happens with authentic communication and straightforward, high-level ideas. Generation Footy was founded on the principle that we need to raise our expectations, provide small concrete improvements and engage in honest communication that will benefit the development of the game.”

The six-season MLS veteran, with time in Vancouver, Montreal, New York City and Minnesota (in 2016, the club’s final NASL season and build-up for MLS) is well-respected by teammates, coaches and fans, alike, for his adaptability on the pitch and his warrior mentality through injuries. Brovsky’s playing career was put on hold when MNUFC declined to re-sign him after his recovery from the ACL tear that ended his 2016 season, but he remained in Minnesota and is still active in the local soccer scene.

“Right now I’m enjoying coaching youth, high school and college players of all levels and trying to spread my passion, knowledge, and experience. I believe young girls and boys should be taught the right things from the beginning and be empowered to take control of their own development,” said Brovsky.

Generation Footy provides those growing players with the inspiration and resources to do just that. The site’s content so far includes quotes and insights from players like Christiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, How-To skill breakdowns with video of the masters, light-hearted but truthful pieces like ‘The 10 Commandments of Footy’ and a podcast about dealing with injuries with ACL Club founder Jordan Angeli. But Brovsky is not trying to preach Footy; he is engaging with it and using it to engage with others.

“I want to grow organically and connect with the men/women/boys/girls who are avid learners and who have a DESIRE to grow… Part of engaging with my readers and listeners means I want a two-way conversation and for them to approach me with ideas, passions, insights etc. that they may have. Sometimes this is a complex technical idea and sometimes it could just be an awesome video of someone enjoying the game. Inspiration comes from everywhere.”

Go to GenerationFooty.com to find out how you can Influence the Game. And always remember the Tenth Commandment of Footy: “Thou shalt not be envious of others within the game… Influence the game on your terms!”

Featured image courtesy: @GenerationFooty

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MNUFC kit reveal: Loons In Stripes

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

We Minnesota United FC supporters will sing “Wonderwall” any chance we get. But it isn’t often that we get to sing it in a packed four-story rotunda.

An estimated 1,000 Minnesota faithful and curious onlookers gathered in the Best Buy Rotunda at Mall of America for the reveal of the Loons’ 2018 primary kit. While many of the fans had seen leaked photos of the replica shirt and sneak-peeks released by the club of the authentic jersey’s details, the first glimpse of the entire kit was still an event.

Fresh off the plane from preseason training in Florida, the squad filed on stage to model their new primary kit in its entirety: Grey Henley shirt with a red button, dark grey vertical stripes on the front, the Adidas piping down each side in sky blue, a borderless crest and a small loon silhouette at the bottom. The light grey shorts, with matching piping, set off the dark stripes of the shirt, making it appear much less bland than most fans feared after seeing the leaked images.

This kit will certainly stand out more than last year’s light grey/blue sash kit. I haven’t decided if it’s the dark grey stripes that do the job or the exceptionally bright white bullseye front and center, but it works.

Speaking of bullseyes…

Target, one of the first sponsors to hop on board for MNUFC’s inaugural MLS season in 2017, sent its canine mascot, Bullseye, to model his own dog-friendly jersey (not yet for sale, I checked).

Bridget McDowell - MNUFC/mlsfemale

The event was also an opportunity to get a preseason status check on the squad. Field reporter, and former Loon, Jamie Watson talked with coach Adrian Heath and defensive back Brent Kallman about their Florida trip. Both spoke of progress on the field and off, with chemistry building between the newcomers and veterans. Heath also hinted that the much-talked-about potential deal with Columbian mid Nicolas Benedetti is still on the table despite rumors to the contrary.

There was plenty of promise and positivity to sing about. But, just to be sure, the squad returned to the stage, this time with scarves which they raised high as staff queued up the Oasis hit on the rotunda’s speakers. And we sang…

There’s more to come. The Loons head south again this week to close out their preseason at the Carolina Challenge Cup before opening the season March 3 in San Jose.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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Minnesota joins fight to show the Red Card to Racism

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

If you have spent any time at all on soccer Twitter over the last two weeks, you have most likely seen the story about the Idaho youth soccer coach who discovered a letter on the windshield of his vehicle threatening him over his involvement with the Idaho Juniors Futbol Club which serves a large immigrant population. If you haven’t, you can read the Idaho Statesman’s January 25 report here.

The internet responded to the report instantaneously. More than $6,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe page organized by the club to support anti-racism charities. Even pro players and prominent members of the soccer community have spoken out on social media in support of the club and against racism in general.

Just this Wednesday, USSF presidential candidate Kyle Martino appealed to current and former players to join him for a game in support of Idaho Youth Soccer. Kei Kamara and Mia Hamm, among others, have already answered the call.

Meanwhile, I and some of my fellow Minnesota soccer supporters have launched a fundraiser and awareness campaign to bring Jeromy Tarkon‘s team north in July.

One of the world’s largest celebrations of youth soccer takes place right here, in Minnesota United FC‘s own backyard. Literally.

The Schwann’s USA CUP takes place each summer at the National Sports Center in Blaine. NSC is home to MNUFC’s newly redesigned training facilities and its main stadium played host to MNUFC’s home games in the NASL days (and hosted United’s predecessors, the Thunder and Stars). In 2016, the tournament drew a record 1,176 teams from 19 countries and 19 US states.

The USA CUP is the perfect setting for our fundraising initiative, Red Card to Racism. We hope to raise $24,000 to bring sixteen U-11 players IJFC to the tournament along with three coaches and two chaperones. We want the kids of Idaho Juniors FC, and their counterparts throughout youth soccer, to know that for every one person against them, there are many more of us supporting them, who are ready to show a red card to racism.

This game we love, the World’s Game, would be nothing without the contributions of all the nations and cultures which have celebrated it, cultivated it. This diversity is what makes the game beautiful. So let’s use it to teach others how to celebrate our differences and unite around our similarities.

You can learn more about the fundraiser and ways to give on our YouCaring site.

You can also find Red Card to Racism on Facebook and Twitter, @redcardtoracism.

Featured image courtesy: @redcardtoracism

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MNUFC SuperDraft Report

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

This team is full of surprises. I was expecting to get maybe a paragraph or two out of the draft day, but Minnesota United FC was making up for lost time. Here is my update:

The north is slightly less restless. In fact, following the early-and-often negotiation tactics of coach Adrian Heath, Sporting Director Manny Lagos and Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee, was like taking a crash course in Advanced Player Acquisition. My head is still spinning, but here’s where we stand.

United first traded their 5th pick to Chicago Fire for $75,000 GAM, $100,000 TAM, the 15th pick and a player to be named later in the day. That lucky Fire player (I hope he feels that way) was goalkeeper Matt Lampson. With 24 starts in 2017, Lampson adds depth and experience to the position behind current starter Bobby Shuttleworth.

The club then acquired the 7th pick from Montreal Impact, in exchange for $150,000 in TAM, and selected forward Mason Toye. The Generation Adidas player out of Indiana University was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2017. United already has two solid strikers in Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi (the club’s first ever draft pick), but Toye can play backup to Danladi when Ramirez is on international duty and affords the flexibility to play a two-striker formation.

With the 15th pick, United selected defender Wyatt Omsberg out of Dartmouth. His 6’4″ frame will be helpful in set pieces, an aspect of the game in which United has long been lacking. Joe Greenspan was expected to play that role in 2017, but missed much of the season due to injury and was released.

Three players in one round were not enough for MNUFC. Heath and company took the final pick of the first round from Toronto FC in exchange for a second round pick and $50,000 in TAM. With that pick, they selected another defender, Carter Manley from Duke, who trained with the Loons this offseason. Manley adds more depth and options to what we expect to be a new-look back line.

But wait, there’s more! In the second round, with the 41st overall pick, United selected Xavier Gomez of the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Gomez adds depth to a midfield that is currently a little wing-heavy.

In all the post-draft interviews with United staff, one word, spoken repeatedly, stands out: Potential. So, with five new Loons reporting to training on Monday, let’s just say the north is rising.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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