Minnesota United winger Ethan Finlay will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2018 MLS season, according to a statement released by the club Tuesday. The injury was sustained in Sunday 3-1 loss in Seattle. The United States international required attention from the Loons’ training staff after getting tangled up with the Sounders’ Alex Roldan in the 38th minute. He was replaced by Sam Nicholson at halftime.
The Duluth, Minn., native started all seven of Minnesota’s games this season. He logged 570 minutes prior to the injury, recorded an assist and is the Loons’ joint leader in goals scored with two. Finlay’s 12th-minute goal at Orlando is the only Loons goal scored in the first half of a 2018 competitive match. Minnesota also is without its other top scorer, as Kevin Molino is ruled out until 2019 after sustaining an ACL injury of his own in the second game of the season.
Coming into the spring, Minnesota’s greatest area of depth was among its wide attacking players. Adding Finlay’s absence to Molino’s will likely cement Miguel Ibarra and Sam Nicholson as Minnesota’s first-choice wingers for the immediate future.
Alexi Gomez, currently on loan from Peruvian side Universitario de Deportes with an option to sign, also may see increased playing time. The left-footed 25-year-old has played left back in the past, but the past couple of seasons he primarily has played left winger. Cameroonian attacker Frantz Pangop — who made his only appearance for the Loons when he replaced Miguel Ibarra on the wing in an 18-minute cameo against New York Red Bulls March 24 — may also be in consideration.
A formation change pushing Minnesota’s first designated player, Darwin Quintero, out wide isn’t out of the question, either. Heath addressed his team’s tendency to start slowly after Sunday’s loss at Seattle, and he mentioned a change in formation — away from the 4-2-3-1 — as a potential solution.