Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

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It’s a weird reality, but here we are.

16 days from Minnesota United’s season opener in Dallas, Emanuel Reynoso is still not with the team, and we’ve been given no indication he’s on his way any time soon.

So, now it’s time to embrace a hypothetical that, as the days progress, seems less like a hypothetical.

What do the Loons look like without Reynoso in the lineup?

MNUFC’s talisman has earned every bit of that moniker since he first stepped on the field in the summer of 2020. His impact has been immense, with 18 goals and 22 assists tallied in 76 appearances. He’s also been, at times, the very best chance creator in MLS during his tenure in Minnesota.

But as we head into the 2023 season, that production and impact may be thousands of miles away, meaning Adrian Heath and Co. will have to make a major pivot to how they put their lineup together.

What are those options, though? Can the club still play Heath’s 4-2-3-1 effectively without Reynoso’s ability to connect the defense to the attack? Will they switch to a 4-3-3 or *gulps* a 3-5-2? Is there another “out of left field” formation up the staff’s sleeve?

Let’s dive in.




It looks as if Minnesota could get away with playing a 4-2-3-1 without Reynoso, although they’ve opted not to in the past when he’s been out.

What stands out to me, is how Loons may be best equipped for a 3-back/5-back formation, with suddenly a plethora of rostered center backs, plus natural wingback Alan Benitez on the right mirroring Kemar Lawrence, who was a crossing machine last year.

The squad has had some time to prepare without Rey as well, with Adrian Heath confirming Robin Lod played some minutes at the No. 10 down in Orlando. You have to imagine the same will be the case in California, as the club gets set to fly out to Palm Springs later today for the Coachella Valley Invitational.

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