Image courtesy of Minnesota United FC
The 2023 Minnesota United FC home opener is upon us as the Loons host the New York Red Bulls in action Saturday evening at Allianz Field.
Ahead of the home opener, I ran a mailbag on twitter asking Loons followers to send questions my way, talking about all things MNUFC. Here’s the best of the bunch.
With Heath’s extension, what does success look like for him this season? With and without Rey. Does the club make a “known entity” signing this summer?— Nick Barkley (@BigValley85) March 9, 2023
For Adrian Heath, success this year is advancing further than 2022. That includes all three competitions this season: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, The Leagues Cup, and the Supporter’s Shield. The Loons will want to find themselves in a hosting position for the MLS Cup playoffs as well.
What is the ceiling of the loons without Rey?— Daniel Sperry (@sperrydaniel94) March 9, 2023
It’s part of the constant questions for Minnesota right now. Where’s Emanuel Reynoso? Why isn’t he here? When is he coming back?
The short answer is nobody knows. However, the Loons have to look at life without him right now. Simply put, this squad needs attacking help. Their depth is young and raw whereas the starters have failed to be consistently productive in recent years. It’s going to be a testing time for the squad until the situation with their Argentine talisman is sorted.
is Luis Amarilla ready to start?
— paloji (@paloji) March 9, 2023
He is! Amarilla is 100% available for selection come Saturday.
Do you think we ever see a two stricter system with Luis and Mender?
— TK (@Tonns7) March 9, 2023
[Editor’s Note: “two-striker”]
I do, but at this moment, one of the two is an important option off the bench. Take that away and the options are bleak. Come April and May, I think it becomes more of a realistic option.
How does weather such as the snow we’re expecting for this week’s home opener affect the way the game is played and the player’s and coaching staff’s tactical mindset?
— Carter Hoffer (@CarterHoffer) March 9, 2023
One thing players said to me all week is they’re going to adjust their studs to deal with the soft grass at Allianz. The pitch is rather untested and hasn’t built up the strength to withhold 90 minutes of soccer yet, so as a result, studs will be adjusted. Another fun little thing is Dayne St. Clair plans to wear medical gloves underneath his goalkeeper gloves to keep his hands warm.
What was the overall impression of Leatherman during the preseason? And for that matter, the other MNUFC2 guys who trained with the first team. Anybody likely to follow an Iwe-type path to the senior squad?
— Mary Burke (@slapshoe) March 9, 2023
Carlos Leatherman is actively being looked at as a potential 2023 Homegrown signing. Keep your eyes on him over the next few months.
How many loons would you feel confident in saying they’re on the roster 3 years from today? Anyone in particular stand out as a likely candidate?
— Stefan (@StefanWenc) March 9, 2023
I think players like Hassani Dotson, Joseph Rosales, Kervin Arriaga and Micky Tapias are good shouts. It’s tough to say, as there’s always a trade market. Plus, players age, and contracts run out. Dotson has the largest potential trade market in my eyes, though.
What would you rather fight: 50 loon sized horses or in horse sized loon?
— Nate (@seemsallbad) March 9, 2023
[Editor’s note: “or one horse-sized loon”]
I . . . hmm. Do I have any sort of protection or armor? Am I armed with bread crumbs to throw to the Loons for a distraction? Or possibly a water gun full of Surly Furious? There is context needed here, Nate . . .
What’s the plan for MNUFC2 between the sticks? I’m assuming they want Fred to get a bunch of minutes, Smir player well last year, and then we go sign the #1 Pulisic in the country. Plus, I’d assume they give Eric a game or two like last year. A chance one goes on loan?
— United Loons (@MNUnitedFCLoons) March 8, 2023
Great question. The short answer is we do not know yet. Hopefully in the next 10 days or so things get sorted quickly. We should see an MNUFC2 schedule announcement in that time frame too.
I would presume Valentin will start just like he did against Dallas.
— Evan (@Evan11Yt) March 10, 2023
I think this depends on the health of Lawrence, too, as Kemar took a knock in training early in the week. However, If he’s a go, I’d expect Valentin to get the nod after a really solid debut in week 1.
which non-north american player is most likely to turn into an actual ice cube on the pitch during the game?
— craptasticslasha (@sloshastories) March 10, 2023
Easy. It’s 100% Ménder García. He’s never played at a frigid Allianz Field before. It will be a big test for the youngster.
So when we getting empanadas at @allianzfield ?
— Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria (@rscspokenword) March 9, 2023
Important question, Rodrigo. Hopefully come 2024 they show some respect to the Empanada as an elite food option.
What is Emmanuel Iwe’s timeline for return?
— J0O0O000 (@J0O0O000) March 9, 2023
The goal is to have Iwe ready to go come May, when it’s expected that the Twosies will have a string of home games at the NSC with Spring weather being welcomed.
Time will tell, though.
How big is the wonderwall standing section compared to other stadiums? How would you rank the intimidation level of the wonderwall for opposing teams attracking that direction vs the Loons getting energy from it?
— Comrade Bork (@Comrade_Bork) March 9, 2023
The Wonderwall is brilliant. They’re loud, rambunctious, intimidating and always bring an atmosphere to the stadium. I don’t think you can really compare supporters sections to each other without seeing them in person, but I’d have to think this group ranks high among the rest.
[Editor’s note: According to Zach Walker in the Pioneer Press April 7, 2019, “34 Degrees of seating incline behind south net, one of the sport’s steepest.”]
Might have missed this somewhere, but: Is Dotson expected to be fit enough to start this week?
— Stefan (@StefanWenc) March 8, 2023
Hassani is indeed a go come Saturday, and is available for 90 minutes if selected to start. It’s definitely a situation to watch, as captain Wil Trapp is heading into the match with a rib injury, but is available to play if called upon.