By: BRUCE McGUIRE
These are my grades for each of the Minnesota United FC players as the season hits the halfway point. Players listed alphabetically:
(D) Alvbage – Well, it was a rough start, and then he got hurt, and then was beat out for the role. Now he’s not even on the bench. They really needed him to be good.
(B) Burch – Helped stabilize a drowning team. CPR if you will. He has been solid and without errors. How he recovers from hernia surgery will be very important down the stretch.
(B) Calvo – We can see all that talent. He gets better and better. The mistakes have been costly at times but they are fewer all the time. And if he can score some more goals… lookout.
(B+) Cronin – Whew. This team needed a guy like him desperately. A strong, simple and experienced midfielder. A true starter, and those are not in big numbers on the roster. Only drawback, at his age and mileage there have been a couple games when he has disappeared late in the game, a little.
(C+) Danladi – A true rookie who has shown good and bad. He has scored 2 goals, which is very good. But he is impatient and got a red card for kicking someone, showing he has a lot of maturing to do as well. Has some talent. Wait and see.
(C) Davis – Has had his chances and made the most of them. No complaints at all. Sadly he just really isn’t at this level to play week-in and week-out. But for now a good back up.
(F) Demidov – One of the bigger MLS busts in several years. Could not keep up with the pace and power of the league. A total failure for the management. And to make things worse he is the highest paid on the team too. They cannot have another one of these.
(C+) Ibarra – The confidence is still not fully there. His pace is back, his defending is good and helpful, but the ability to turn and go to goal, stir things up and create for this team is still lacking. They need him to find another notch up the ladder.
(A) Ibson – Exactly what I expected, with better teammates his quality would rise. Simply put he has been great (even with his moments of petulance). Can do things that no one else on this team can, especially in passing. His pickpocket defense has been a thing of beauty, too.
(C) Jome – I have heard for a while now that he is a raw talent that just needs time. OK, then loan him out already to get him on the field. His minutes on the field have been OK, and then also a waste of time. That’s not quality use of a MLS roster spot.
(C) Kadrii – Has not gotten enough time on the field to really know what he can do. A few little glimpses of skill have burst through. But for how thin this roster is he must not be doing much in practice if the coach is not calling on him come sub-time in every single game.
(A-) Kallman – The shocker of them all, really. In the best possible way. Stepped into the team when they were desperate for someone to stop the whole dam from collapsing. Has not tried to play above his level or impress people. Just a really solid effort at centerback, which can be a very tough thing to do in MLS.
(B) Molino – The player with the highest expectations. He has helped, that’s for sure. His passing toward the goal has been top notch. But he needs to become more of a leader. I expect to see full effort for 90 minutes and nothing less.
(B+) Ramirez – Questions hovered over his head when this season started, “Could he do it?” The answer came in game 1 and has not let up, “Si se puede.” He has 9 goals so far, and if he was taking PKs he would be at 11 or 12. He needs better service to get him into better spots and a better finishing percentage on this shots to make him great.
(D) Schuller – I have never seen a central midfielder make so many sideways and backwards passes, mixed with almost no forward passes. Are we sure that he really gets minutes for the Finnish national team? We must be missing something here. I don’t get it.
(B) Shuttleworth – Was not a player I was excited see come to this team. But even I can admit that he was a huge step up from what the team had prior, and at times looked very good while saving the bacon of his defenders. But then the mistakes come, inevitably, and it costs them goals and points.
(C) Taylor – Looked terrible at fullback, but has come off the bench a few times now at centerback and looked a lot more comfortable. Not starting material though.
(B) Thiesson – Good job patrolling the wing, getting up and down the field and slowing other teams outside attack. Still needs to do more to make those passes into dangerous areas for the big chances.
(C) KVenegas – He has helped keep the wolves at bay a few times now, which is great for him. But he is not answer for the future. And his crossing has not improved over all these years. He just can’t quite excel at this level.
(C) JVenegas – At times brilliant, and at times looking like he would prefer to be somewhere else. Can hit a magical pass. But he loses the ball too often, and barely plays defense. The best trade bait on the roster.
(C-) Warner – Never was going to be a piece to this puzzle. Just doesn’t have the physical tools to help seal up a leaky defense, and not good enough to play a big role going forward. He is not error prone, though, which has to be considered a plus.
-The following have not played or played so few minutes that a grade is impossible: Anor, de Villardi, Greenspan, Martin and McLain.
And a few special mid-season awards to commemorate the teams first year in MLS:
Most valuable player: Christian Ramirez
Best player: Ibson
Best single game: Ramirez scores twice on Apr 1 in 4-2 win over Salt Lake, the Loons first win in MLS.
Best play: JVenegas flicks pass from Ibson over defenders and into path of Ramirez who scores against Orlando in 1-0 win.
Biggest surprise: Brent Kallman
Biggest disappointment: Demidov, Alvbage, Schuller, Kadrii, Lagos
Best/Worst game: The home opener. Score was a nightmare. Snow was heaven!