Remember the first month of the pandemic in 2020, when Americans all learned about supply chain shortages, through the medium of toilet paper? We definitely took toilet paper for granted. We didn’t think it was possible to run out of toilet paper. And so when there was a shortage, we vowed that when the time came, we’d stock up forever, and we’d never get caught short again.
Remember when Minnesota United ran out of forwards last year? Franco Fragapane got hurt, then Robin Lod and Niko Hansen got hurt at the same time, and then Juan Agudelo and Justin McMaster went down too.
Minnesota United definitely took forwards for granted. They didn’t think it was possible to run out of forwards. And so they clearly vowed that when the time came, they’d stock up forever, and they’d never get caught short again.
Yesterday, MNUFC announced that they were reuniting with forward Abu Danladi, who they picked first in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft but later lost in to Nashville in the expansion draft prior to the 2020 season. Jerry Zgoda from the Star Tribune also says they’re close to finalizing Luis Amarilla’s return, as well.
The Loons have played with a front three for years. Here is the current list of players that can play across that front three.
- Adrien Hunou
- Robin Lod
- Franco Fragapane
- Luis Amarilla
- Bongokuhle Hlongwane
- Abu Danladi
- Niko Hansen
- Tani Oluwaseyi (drafted, not yet signed)
- Aziel Jackson
- Justin McMaster
- Thomas Williamson (signed to MNUFC2)
That’s a lot of guys! Even if you assume that Oluwaseyi and Jackson and McMaster, and for all I know Hlongwane too, are also slated for MNUFC2, you still begin to wonder if there’s enough minutes there for everyone.
One of the specific things I’m wondering about is the plan for Hunou this year. The Frenchman was in a weird spot last year, having to acclimate to a new country and a new league, all while suddenly having virtually the entire scoring burden thrust upon him as everyone else got hurt.
He made 22 starts, had trouble finishing his chances (seven goals on 10.2 xG), and only completed a full 90 minutes twice, which is not the kind of production the Loons needed out of their Designated Player number 9. But he was plowing through the end of what was effectively a 15-month season, having come over near the end of the French season, and was trying to adapt on the fly to a league which is famously difficult to adapt to.
So maybe we just need to cut him some slack.
Where do the Loons see him? They can’t really afford to not play him. But at the same time, the tandem of Amarilla and Danladi would have, as recently as two years ago, been sufficient as the entire plan at striker. Having Hunou AND Amarilla AND Danladi seems like overkill.
But you run out of toilet paper once, and suddenly having too much doesn’t seem like too much of a problem.
My notes have 27 guys signed to the first-team roster for next year, and here’s how that breaks down by position (4-2-1-3 for clarity’s sake):
GK: 3 - Miller, St. Clair, Emmings
DF: 8 - Boxall, Dibassy, Métanire, Gasper, Kallman, Montgomery, Kibunguchy, Taylor
MF: 4 - Trapp, Dotson, Rosales, Hayes
10: 1 - Reynoso
FW: 11 (the above plus Patrick Weah, who’s out with an ACL injury)
There’s almost certainly some sliding and moving that will happen with this roster and MNUFC2 (assuming that this is a thing). For example, Heath is on record as wanting to bring in a young center back and a fullback that can play either side.
That can’t bode well for Montgomery, Kibunguchy, and Taylor - two young center backs and a fullback that can play either side.
Overall, the roster still seems short in the midfield.
I assume that today, MNUFC will announce that Ramón Ábila, Ángelo Rodríguez, Mason Toye, and Christian Ramirez are all part of this year’s squad. Stocking up!