Tag Archives: Collin Martin

Migration Questions Begin for MNUFC

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

After losing their first-round playoff match at Allianz Field on October 20, the Loons returned to the training ground in Blaine to regroup and refocus. The off season had officially arrived. And with it came roster news.

On Friday, United announced that it had declined to exercise contract options on five players: Rasmus Schuller, Collin Martin, Carter Manley, Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat and Ally Hamis Ng’anzi. To gain some insight into future plans, let’s run through the cuts, from the mild surprises to the inevitable.

Somewhat surprising

Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat: The left back was signed in July, shortly after Francisco Calvo was shipped to Chicago. The plan may well have been to slot the French national right into that vacant space but, in reality, Moimbe became the depth piece behind rookie Chase Gasper. After Moimbe’s acquisition, coach Adrian Heath talked him up as a skillful player the club could depend on to close out the latter half of the season. So why offload him as soon as the season ends? Well, he started just three matches and subbed on only once. So maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

Carter Manley: Minnesota’s 2018 SuperDraft pick played just nine games for the Loons over two seasons. However, Manley’s form was greatly improved with his loan to Forward Madison, United’s USL League One partner. When recalled for non-league matches, Manley showed well and appeared to be a serviceable depth piece for the Loons’ backline. It’s also obvious that he has a future elsewhere. “Carter played a major part in our quest for a championship this year,” said Daryl Shore, head coach of Forward Madison.

“{Manley] was a great addition to our team and we would welcome him back to Madison should he want to come back. I think the first step is to see if he gets picked up in the waiver draft by another MLS team. If he doesn’t, again he’d be welcomed back.”

Daryl Shore, head coach of Forward Madison FC

Inevitable

Rasmus Schuller: Schuller joined MNUFC in 2017, but didn’t see the pitch much until 2018 when he started 29 matches. His minutes waned as the season went on, a trend that continued into 2019. He hadn’t been shy about wanting to start fresh elsewhere – his resume is boosted by minutes with the Finnish National Team – and also has a year of conscripted military service looming ahead, so his exit was only a matter of time. The Finn had even cut his blond locks in preparation for duty before the playoff match:

Collin Martin: Another of the wing-heavy signings made by Minnesota in 2017, Martin has struggled for playing time with the Loons. His name came to the fore in 2018 when he came out ahead of the Pride match, becoming the only openly gay male athlete in the top five American pro leagues, but he didn’t even get an appearance in that match. Martin made only three appearances for the Loons this season, often going on loan to Madison and Hartford Athletic – at his own request. Martin may not have fit into the system Heath was working with, but the 24-year-old could make a long career in the lower divisions or with an MLS side looking for midfield mobility. If all else fails, he is a fantastic spokesperson:

Question mark?

Ally Hamis Ng’anzi: With a lower-division partner, MNUFC had the freedom to sign a player or two who could train and develop elsewhere, but be available for recall in a pinch. Enter Ally Hamis Ng’anzi, an 18-year-old Tanzanian international. Billed as a “box-to-box midfielder,” Ng’anzi was raw, but scouts leaned on his Africa Cup of Nations resume as a sign of potential. Unfortunately, Ng’anzi struggled to break into the 18 in Madison and questions are now – rightly so – being asked of that scouting process. According to coach Shore, “Ally had a tough time with the transition, being a young player. It’s sometimes difficult for players due to the culture change, the style of play, and the other adjustments that are needed.”

What comes next?

Heath & Co have locked down a spine, with centerbacks Ike Opara and Michael Boxall, defensive mid Osvaldo Alsonso and attacking mid Robin Lod, forming the basis of the favored Starting XI. The club also seems invested in the development of rookies Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson. The backfield needs depth, but that does not have to come with a high price tag and can easily fall into place once the other pieces are arranged.

With Thomás Chacón being groomed for a future front three, the next attacking player decision will signal the path toward that future. Will Abu Danladi get another chance or does Mason Toye get the keys and a sidekick in Angelo Rodriguez? Or do they invest in a tested, fit goal-scorer? That position may (should) decide who stays in the attacking midfield. Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra are still question marks for 2020, but both have shouldered that role in some sense, at some point with the Loons.

One thing is certain: It’s going to be a loony off season.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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Standing Alone and Representing Many: Collin Martin

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

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

It may have been a less than stellar sophomore season for Minnesota United FC, but our Loons gave us plenty to be proud of off the pitch in 2018. Inspiring stories of players giving back and taking a stand only go so far in balancing out a non-competitive product, but they can reassure us of one thing: the Club places community on the same playing field as business.

Two Loons who did not receive much attention for actions on the pitch (and not because of poor performance, but because they did not have many opportunities to perform) made national headlines this season for two very different, but equally important, reasons. Matt Lampson is the other Loon who shines out of the water. Read his story here. 

Among the banners in Minnesota’s Supporters Section is a rainbow flag reading “All Fans Welcome.” It has been on display since the club’s tenure at NSC, before the promotion. It is not an empty statement: If you are a human who wants to stand and support the club, you will be treated as a human. But at one match each year, it means more. This year, on June 29, an announcement by a quiet, young midfielder, added even more depth to that statement.

In response to a slew of homophobic comments and allegations that Collin Martin’s announcement was orchestrated by the club as a political statement, owner Dr. Bill McQuire responded by calling the announcement a “human statement.” The club affirmed their message of inclusion to the entire LGBTQ+ community, awarding the L’etoile du Nord (Star of the North) to Dot Belster, Executive Director of Twin Cities Pride. And Belster isn’t the only LGBTQ+ Star recipient. The first L’etoile du Nord, awarded on March 17, went to former Minnesota Viking, Esera Tuaolo, who came out in 2002 after his retirement from the NFL.

It is no small thing that the country’s only openly gay male athlete active in professional sports is one of ours. And it is no small thing that our club supports him so strongly.

For Maggi Heyer, a Dark Clouds member and self-proclaimed Token Queer Capo, the club’s handling of Martin’s announcement reinforced the positive aspects of MNUFC.

“For me, this year was a lot of ups and downs. I think overall the lack of progress from last year was frustrating. Some of the moves that the FO made, while I understand the need for them, were especially frustrating because the FO failed to handle them well,” she explained. “I’m not sure that Collin’s announcement changed my feelings, per se, as affirmed what we knew about the club. I have found our supporter culture here to be so open and welcoming and it was great to see that this extends to the team.”

The message goes well beyond this MLS season. Martin will make an impact on a new generation of athletes, fans and human beings.

“I am the mom of two kids and I think the visible support that the club has shown for Collin goes a long way to showing kids that they are welcome in sport, regardless of how they identify,” Heyer said. “Visibility is so important. I would love for an athlete coming out to not be headline news a few years from now, but for now, I truly appreciate Collin’s bravery and the clubs welcoming culture.”

During his time in Minnesota, Martin has taken an active role in advocating for human rights issues, even campaigning for, now governor-elect, Tim Walz. And the state and its greater sporting community have thrown their support behind Martin as well. At the 2018 Minnesota Sports Awards, Martin received the Courage Award.

Sure, the numbers don’t look good, but while we are all waiting for that famous Three Year Plan to come to fruition, we have plenty to appreciate and lots to look forward to.

“This years’ Pride Night did seem a little different [from previous years], especially from the supporters perspective,” Heyer told me. “I think the tifo really helped to set the tone and with Collin’s announcement earlier in the day there was just this amazing energy. I’m excited to see how we can top it next year in Allianz though.”

Featured image: fox5ny.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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