ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota United FC made the addition of versatile defensive midfielder James Musa official Friday.
The New Zealand international is expected to provide depth to a Loons team that parted ways with center midfielders Lawrence Olum, Collin Martin and Rasmus Schüller over the winter. Musa holds a green card and will not occupy an international roster spot. Terms of Musa’s contract were not released by Minnesota.
make that another 🥝
we've signed defensive midfielder James Musa pic.twitter.com/g6ZZ0KcWy7
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) January 17, 2020
MNUFC coach Adrian Heath said that the Loons’ brass had been upfront with Musa about starting preseason with Ján Greguš, Osvaldo Alosno and Hassani Dotson ahead of him on the team’s depth chart.
“James is one of them players who’s been in and out of the league and he’s been on that cusp of being in the league,” Heath said. “Physically, he’s very imposing, very athletic. Really good personality, he’s very strong-willed and we think he’s going to come in and try to compete. He knows it’s going to be tough but he’s prepared to embrace the challenge and compete for a starting spot. He’s got the opportunity, so it’s up to him to take it.”
The 6-foot Musa made 55 appearances in all competitions after signing with the Phoenix ahead of the 2018 season, mixing in a small handful of games at centerback with his primary duties as a holding midfielder.
During a nomadic career in which he has turned up for the Wellington Phoenix, Fullham U-23s, Hereford United, Saint Louis FC, Sporting Kansas City and Swope Park Rangers, Musa has also played fullback in addition to being deployed centrally.
Internationally, Musa has represented the All Whites three times at the senior level and another 20 at youth levels, scoring five goals while still in search of his first senior tally. Fellow Kiwi Michael Boxall is also under contract with MNUFC, and another All White — first-round SuperDraft pick Noah Billingsley — is expected to sign with the Loons ahead of their 2020 campaign.
Musa joins Amadou Dia (Kansas City), Chris Lema (Red Bulls), Jared Stroud (Red Bulls) and Brian Anunga (Nashville) as one of a small handful of players signed to MLS deals this month after spending 2019 in the USL Championship.