The New Loons Are Here!
Minnesota United has signed 5 new players during the summer international transfer window. As the transfer month approached I guessed that they would sign 1-2 players, and head coach Adrian Heath said he was looking for 3-4. He was a lot more right than I was, which I suspect is probably the case almost all the time when it comes to soccer.
With 11 games left in the regular season for MNUFC let’s take a look at who these players are and what they can contribute down the stretch.
(The intra-MLS trade deadline is Sep 15.)
Since the season started only 2 players had been added to the roster, Burch & Cronin, until now.
All of these players should be eligible to play at Seattle on Sun Aug 20.
Ethan Finlay – RMF – Columbus Crew
A fast, hardworking and talented right sided attacker who loves to get in on goal and make things happen. He is at his best when he has a strong target forward in front of him. He will give better service to Christian Ramirez than he has had this season from the right side of the field.
MN spent good money on a MLS veteran who has a decent sized salary and diminishing stats over the past 2 seasons. This year he has just 1 goal and 1 assist and was falling out of the lineup. So much had he dropped off that the Crew went out this week and signed a veteran starter Pedros Santos from Braga in Portugal to take Finlay’s place in the first 11.
There is an upside to all of this though too. Finlay was born in Duluth and grew up in that area on the Wisconsin side of the border so he will have family and friends nearer to him. He also knows his season has been pretty bad for him so far, and wants a 2nd chance to get it going in the right direction again. And finally he knows MN paid a lot for him, so he will feel wanted, yet also wanting to show them it was money well spent.
Sam Nicholson – LMF – Heart Of Midlothian
The Scotsman has already shown some of what he can do, starting in 3 consecutive games on the left side of midfield (as an inverted winger, A.K.A. a right footer). The attributes we have seen are that he is quick, he gets into good spots to attack, and fights hard all the time. Now we need to see some true skills connecting with teammates, getting behind defenses, and hitting that killer pass or shot.
The 22 year old has been a starter at Heart Of Midlothian in Scotland since he was 18 years old. Last season he suffered a knee injury that saw him miss half the season. There is a chance he is not fully recovered and will improve as his game fitness catches up.
Michael Boxall – CB/RFB – SuperSport United
The question from the start was whether he was really a centerback or a fullback. So far he has gotten a lot of time at centerback for the Loons. Initially covering when Brent Kallman was injured, and Jermaine Taylor and Francisco Calvo were with their national teams at the Gold Cup. But Boxall kept his starting position in the last game when all three other centerbacks were healthy and ready.
Boxall got himself on the Loons map in June while playing for his native New Zealand in the Confederations Cup. Played 53 games over the two previous seasons at SuperSport in South Africa, from what we understand he played regularly at right fullback there. His Minn career got off to a Demidovian start when in the 1st game he conceded an own goal. He has not made giant errors since then, but he has not shown that he is a step up from players already on the roster, which is not a strike against him, it’s a sad sight for fans hoping that the team management might be able to go out and find BETTER players, not more of the same.
Jose Leiton – LMF/LFB – Herediano (loan)
Last year was his first as a full time starter in Costa Rica, at champions Herediano. Just turned 24 earlier this month. In July he got his first call up to his national team for the Gold Cup, and played the last 20 minutes of the Final against the USA. MNUFC got the stamp of approval on Leiton from Francisco Calvo. However, he does play the same position as also-just-signed Sam Nicholson, making this a mysterious signing.
The most promising aspect of this deal is that Costa Rican players in general have adapted quickly to MLS and have been successful.
Brandon Allen – F – New York Red Bulls II (loan)
A 2nd division player who has only seen MLS action for just 7 minutes for RBNY in 2016. He has racked up 30 goals in 47 appearances in the USL, and then added a hat trick in 2016 championship game, and was named USL Rookie Of The Year. The only thing I have seen of Allen is warm ups and compared to teammates running the same drills he looks uncoordinated and sloppy.
Let’s wait on full judgement though until he takes the field in a real MLS game. The team has had opportunities to play him and so far have declined for odd reasons – i.e. against Seattle down 0-3 with nearly 30 minutes to play and desperately in need of goals, coach Adrian Heath said he didn’t put Allen in the game at that point because the game was a lost cause. Seriously? That is some of the strangest logic I have ever heard. And in the end Minnesota only used 2 of 3 possible subs. Allen will be 24 years old in October.
Alex Kapp – G – Atlanta United
The 22 year old from Queens, N.Y., was drafted by Atlanta United in the 4th round of this year’s Superdraft but wasn’t signed after preseason camp, making him a free agent. From Creighton University, where he was named NCAA All-American and Big East Goalkeeper of the year in his 1 season at the school.
There are just 3 home games left on the schedule, meaning 8 road games. Its going to take a full effort from the squad and contributions from these new players to get any more notches in the win column.