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Minnesota United FC

Minnesota United FC 2018 outlook: improvement needed

Minnesota United FC’s first Major League Soccer season had plenty of highlights and challenges. The Loons will be looking for stability in year 2.

Head coach: Adrian Heath

2017 finish: 10-18-6, 36 points; No. 9 West

Season recap

At the beginning of 2017, Minnesota United FC took plenty of criticism. The Loons lost their first two matches to Portland and fellow expansion side Atlanta by 5-1 and 6-1, respectively. It took some time and a lot of roster changes for things to start clicking. Forward Christian Ramirez found a rhythm and led the team in scoring with 14 goals. The development of 22-year-old Ghanaian forward Abu Danladi also progressed, and he finished with eight goals. Midfielder Kevin Molino ran the attack with seven goals and a team-leading nine assists. In the end, the Loons had a couple big wins, including a streak in late August and September when they put together a 4-2-1 run.

Ramirez called up: Despite a difficult season overall for Minnesota, Ramirez stood out enough to get a call from the U.S. men’s national team. He was among six forwards invited to January training camp in Carson, Calif.

2018 goals

Player acquisitions and playoffs. From the beginning, Minnesota’s front office said building a team would be a process and that it was committed to Heath and his coaching staff beyond 2017. The coaches and sporting director Manny Lagos have been traveling the world scouting, including a November trip to Colombia.

“It’s important that we make some real, tough decisions for the good of the club,” Lagos told MLSSoccer.com. “We’re in that process right now.“

Season opener: March 3 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

Offseason moves

Signings –Tyrone Mears (selected with fourth pick of  Stage 1 MLS Re-Entry Draft); M Frantz Pangop (free)

Trades – Acquired M Harrison Heath from Atlanta in exchange for natural fourth-round pick in 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

Contract option declined –Bernardo Anor, M Ismaila Jome, D Joseph Greenspan, M Thomas de Villardi, D Justin Davis, D Jermaine Taylor, D Kevin Venegas.

Contract expired – GK Patrick McLain.

Other –Johan Venegas loaned to Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica; F Brandon Allen returned to New York Red Bulls upon completion of his loan.

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