A way-too-early guess at MNUFC's depth chart
Minnesota United FC’s first game of the season is eighteen days away, and we’re still not too sure who will even be on the team.
Will Emanuel Reynoso ever show up? Will Pachuca center back Miguel Tapias join Minnesota now, or in the summer? (Morning update: Miguel Tapias is here!) Who are Adrian Heath’s “one to two more signings” on the attacking end of the field?
I assumed we’d be able to see the Loons play at the Coachella Valley Invitational, which starts this weekend, but as it turns out, we can’t. Even then, though, it’s preseason, so who knows what will happen; Minnesota might play three different lineups, each for a half-hour, and we’ll be reduced to trying to piece them together from a ten-photo slideshow posted on Instagram. A reminder of the schedule:
- Saturday, February 11, 3pm CT against New York RB
- Wednesday, February 15, 2pm CT against San Jose Earthquakes
- Saturday, February 18, noon CT against Vancouver Whitecaps
The venerable Matt Doyle of MLSSoccer.com posted his swing at the MNUFC depth chart (along with every other team in the Western Conference). With this in mind, here is another guess at what the MNUFC depth chart looks like right now - including only players who have arrived in training camp and are not injured, so
no Tapias and no Reynoso, and no Bakaye Dibassy or Mikael Marques. I have tried to make sure that every player on the roster is listed at least once, though some may be listed multiple times.
Also, I need to caveat this by saying that I am not at training, so this is based purely on quotes from media availabilities and my own sense of where guys fit into the lineup and my sense of what Adrian Heath is likely to do. 100% speculation and 0% information! But that’s what preseason is for, isn’t it?
GK: Dayne St. Clair, Clint Irwin, Eric Dick, Fred Emmings
LB: Kemar Lawrence, Ryen Jiba, Devin Padelford
LCB: Miguel Tapias, Brent Kallman, Kervin Arriaga
RCB: Michael Boxall, Doneil Henry, Zarek Valentin
RB: DJ Taylor, Zarek Valentin, Alan Benítez, Hassani Dotson
DM: Wil Trapp, Kervin Arriaga, Hassani Dotson
CM: Robin Lod, Kervin Arriaga, Joseph Rosales, Hassani Dotson
AM: Robin Lod, Cameron Dunbar
LW: Franco Fragapane, Mender García, Cameron Dunbar, Patrick Weah
RW: Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Robin Lod, Cameron Dunbar, Patrick Weah
ST: Luis Amarilla, Mender García, Robin Lod, Tani Oluwaseyi
Some caveats here. First, I feel like it’s important to note that Hassani Dotson is still returning from injury, which is why I’ve put him on the bottom of the depth chart at several positions; he’s yet to start playing full contact in scrimmages, so he may not be ready to go for the beginning of the season.
Second, I realize that Robin Lod cannot start in both central midfield and at the number 10 role, but for now, I think he might be first-choice in either position. Assuming he is not injured, he will play somewhere on Opening Day, and I would not be entirely surprised to see him in any of the five most attacking roles in the lineup.
Third, I listed Cameron Dunbar all over the place, only because he played a bunch of different places for LA Galaxy II last season, and so there’s no telling where he’ll end up. I also put Patrick Weah as a backup wing rather than at striker, only because I think he’d be the fifth-choice striker right now. Similarly, with Tani Oluwaseyi, he may be able to play across the front line, but since MNUFC2 deployed him at striker last year, that’s where I put him.
My main takeaway from this exercise was to note how much the team’s defensive depth has improved, assuming
Tapias arrives soon and Marques is as exciting as suggested. The Loons played most of last year with three recognized MLS-quality center backs on the roster; this year, if Bakaye Dibassy returns before the end of the season, they could have six (plus fill-ins like Valentin and Arriaga). Minnesota’s fullback depth was tested immediately last year; this year they enter the season with three right backs and two left backs, plus a prospect in Padelford, before you even reach the necessity of having Dotson play fullback.
Up front is a different story. This is the same attack that finished last year with four goals in their final seven games, two of which were scored by Kallman and now-departed midfielder Jonathan González - one that’s now missing Reynoso, its best creator. Perhaps a healthy Hlongwane will be the key, or perhaps the new attacking signings - whoever they may be - can make the difference, but right now, looking at this rundown, you have to worry: where are goals going to come from?