Trying to divine the setup of an MLS roster can drive a strong man mad. The 2022 MNUFC roster, even in its partially formed state, is no different.
By my count, MNUFC has a designated player spot and perhaps four other senior roster spots open, at the moment. They may well not fill two of those, to retain some flexibility - for example, they needed an open spot last year to sign Fanendo Adi in mid-season.
Let’s assume that the rumors are true and that Luis Amarilla is returning to the Loons. Amarilla signed in 2020, promised 25 goals, got hurt and missed most of the year, then couldn’t come to an agreement to return in 2021. He’d be welcome back in Minnesota. He’d also be, by my count, the ninth international player on the roster, assuming that draftee Tani Oluwaseyi - who is Nigerian by way of Canada - is also signed.
Note: this also assumes that Robin Lod, who was trying to get a green card last year, did get one - and that Romain Métanire, who was also trying but is still listed as an international on the roster, didn’t.
That’s too many. You can’t have more than eight internationals. You can buy an international spot from another team, but as yet, MNUFC hasn’t done this.
But maybe someone else got a green card! The online roster isn’t updated, probably.
Also this talk about roster spots is making some assumptions about who is and is not on the senior roster (that’s spots 1-20), versus on the supplemental roster (spots 21-30). For example, Dayne St. Clair was on the supplemental roster last year, but signed a new deal in the offseason and also - if I’m reading the rules right - aged out of eligibility to be on the supplemental roster. Same goes for Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson.
The roster doesn’t reflect any of that. Which could mean it’s not updated, and could also mean that I’m completely wrong.
And also, I have absolutely no idea how MNUFC2 is going to affect this. The Loons signed Thomas Williamson, who was San Jose’s first-round pick last year, to the MNUFC2 roster for 2022, when in past years he would have been exactly the type of player that they’d put on the supplemental roster.
Does MNUFC2 effectively give the Loons an extra 18 or 20 supplemental roster spots? Can Oluwaseyi, or guys like Callum Montgomery and Nabi Kibunguchy who have been on loan in the past, simply be part of the MNUFC2 roster instead of the first-team roster?
I guess what I’m saying is that, before the season begins next month, the Loons are likely to bring in anywhere between two and twenty-two new players.
If I was DJ Taylor (six starts at fullback last year), or Montgomery or Kibunguchy (both young center backs who were on loan last year), I don’t think I would have enjoyed hearing that from my coach.
Midfield has to be a priority, too. The Loons had four players to man the middle of the team’s 4-2-1-3, and lost two of them this offseason, with Ozzie Alonso going to Atlanta and Ján Greguš headed to San Jose. They have Jacori Hayes and youngster Joseph Rosales as cover, but surely they’ll want someone else as well.
It apparently won’t be Thomás Chacón, who seems to be on the way out of the club. Perhaps Rosales has been earmarked for a bigger role than expected.
With preseason beginning next week, we’re starting to get some answers on the Loons roster.
Lastly, Connor Fleming from The18.com put together a list of the greatest hits from South African fans on MNUFC’s Facebook page, following the signing of Bongokuhle Hlongwane. It’s truly hilarious, but also should strengthen the resolve of all Loons fans to take care of South Africa’s beautiful son.