Minnesota United FC lost their third-straight match of the season to the Seattle Sounders Saturday evening, falling 1-0 at Lumen Field. The winner came late from Albert Rusnak.
The Loons were shutout for the first time this season, while the Sounders bounced back from a horrific 4-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers the week prior.
Minnesota has a quick turnaround now, as they travel to Michigan to take on Detroit City FC in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday evening.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from Saturday’s action.
Sang Bin Not a Traditional 10
Korean speedster Sang Bin Jeong isn’t Emanuel reynoso. He does not play like him, nor are they similar footballers in any sense. With Reynoso, you could pass him the ball and he would feed you, hold up the ball or take it himself while dancing across the pitch.
Sang Bin is an attacker who wants to be fed into space and either drive into the box or send the ball in centrally. He’s not there to hold-up play, pass back to his midfielders or dance across the edge of the box. His intention as an attacker is to drive up the pitch and move the ball forward, and as it stands, those around him are still trying to figure out how to adapt to a player like that.
He only had 36 touches on the ball across 90 minutes, and his heat map was all over the place over the 70 minutes he played. He leaned to the right side of the pitch more often than not, but he was all over the place. As a 10, Sang Bin only completed 18 passes on the day, with seven of them coming inside his own half while the five dribbles he completed were all in the final-third (leaning to the right again).
The issue (so far) with Sang Bin at the 10 is that he’s not a traditional 10. He plays like a chaotic Centre Forward underneath a striker, and it shows in the data. He might grow into the role over time and as he gains fitness, but the early returns show he favors the right side of the pitch with very little to zero impact at all on the left. Have some fun looking at it here and give us your thoughts.
Loons Inactive at Deadline
It’s a bit disappointing to see the transfer window end without another addition. You can’t help but feel that this attack could be bolstered at either the wing or forward position. However, it has to be noted that they didn’t force a deal just to get a body in with the group, which feels like growth and progress.
The addition of Sang Bin as the only attacker brought in over the past few months means they’re content with the current group, but it could also mean that the club hoping that their Argentina escapee somehow makes a return. Who knows what’s happening there, though. My expectation is that they make a bold move in the market this summer, but couldn’t force a deal to happen this Spring in the middle/end of the European campaigns.
Lastly, Bakaye Dibassy is still in play. Once he’s healthy and ready to go, this squad has versatility with the back line (possible back-three) and Kemar Lawrence has stiff competition. It’ll be interesting to see where this group sits come the July transfer window.
There’s still a few hours left until the window technically closes, but Heath informed media in a call Monday morning that they wouldn’t be active over the final hours of it all.
Heath Has His XI
What Minnesota United needed was an additional winger this transfer window. Instead, they adjusted their personnel and moved one to the bench. Franco Fragapane is now seemingly a rotational option, with Heath picking Hlongwane as his left-sided winger opposite of Robin Lod.
Fragapane’s role off the bench will now see him slotted in as the 10 or at the left wing, but with the introduction of Sang Bin into the starting XI, he’s become excess.
The biggest takeaway from this selection is that Mender Garcia is now Adrian Heath’s starting forward. Luis Amarilla’s lack of consistency has cost him a starting spot, and the Colombian is now getting a string of starts to prove why the spot is his. If we’re being honest, neither forward has shown they deserve the starting role, but they’re both Designated Players; one of them has to eventually work, right? (…..right?)
The last thing to note here is that Hassani Dotson is taking the opportunity presented to him and not letting it go. He’s jumped ahead of Joseph Rosales and Wil Trapp in the pecking order to play alongside Kervin Arriaga and that’s likely to continue (outside of the Open Cup match on Tuesday). The two midfielders seem to have chemistry alongside each other while each brings their own unique midfield play to the two central roles.
Get used to seeing this group week-in and week-out now, Heath has picked his team.