Minnesota United’s 2023 season is over; I covered Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City for the Pioneer Press, so please read that instant reaction as well.

As it happened, I covered the final five games of the season for either the Pioneer Press or the Star Tribune, so while I’m always pretty plugged in to what’s happening with the Loons, this is probably the most in the weeds I’ll get. So, while the season is still warm, here’s my quick recap of the storylines I’ll remember about this year:

The inability to score goals at home

The Loons missed the playoffs because they couldn’t win at home this season. Four wins and nine draws, in 17 games, is not good enough, and the reason they couldn’t win is because they couldn’t finish their chances.

According to American Soccer Analysis - the source for all these numbers - the Loons scored 21 times at home, 11 fewer than their expected goal total. Overall, they were the 7th-best team in MLS, and 6th-best at home, according to those underlying xG numbers; the reason they’re not in the playoffs is because they failed to live up to them.

Emanuel Reynoso’s unexcused absence

Minnesota’s number 10 didn’t play until June 3rd, and was once again their best player after he arrived. Across 23 games, in the league and in the Leagues Cup, he had 8 goals and 11 assists; the Loons, who couldn’t score, needed another half-season with their best player running the show.

His teammates seemed to accept his reasons for not showing up until midseason, although the team itself never really did; remember, he was suspended until he finally made it to Minnesota, which the club would not have done if they felt that his reasons for missing all of the preseason and half of the regular season were legitimate. He played so well after arriving that it might be easy to forget his absence, but you have to say that - as their best player - he is as responsible for anyone for the team missing the playoffs, no matter how well he did once he arrived.

Dayne St. Clair’s regression

St. Clair is having an extremely strange career, just going by his numbers. In 2020, he was one of the top three shot-stopping keepers in the league; in 2021, he was in the bottom 10. In 2022, he was again one of the top three shot-stoppers in all of MLS; in 2023, he was once again in the bottom 10, and by several measures he was in the bottom five.

I don’t know if there’s something about DSC that’s simply not captured by the numbers, or if he’s just a streaky keeper. But his shot-stopping is absolutely his best quality, and when he’s in a groove, he can seem utterly unbeatable. He just never got into one of those grooves in 2023.

But hey, in even-numbered years he’s amazing, so maybe he’s set for a great 2024.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll dig more into what’s next for the Loons, as they come to what Wil Trapp called an “inflection point” for the club. But when I think back about 2023, these are the three things that I’ll mostly remember about the year as a whole.