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Minnesota United signs Finnish midfielder Robin Lod

The 26-year-old is a versatile player, but his best fit with Minnesota United is likely as a left-sided winger.

Finland's midfielder Robin Lod, center, is challenged by Estonia's defender Nikita Baranov during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Estonia and Finland at the A. Le Coq Arena stadium in Tallinn, Estonia, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Marko Mumm)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota United FC officially announced the TAM-level signing of midfielder Robin Lod Tuesday. The acquisition will require one of Minnesota’s international roster spots and is pending Lod’s receipt of a P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate. Financial details of Lod’s transfer have not been released.

The 26-year-old has 33 caps for his native Finland at the senior level, and has been a regular in the Huuhkajat first XI as of recent, starting in each of Finland’s last four games of UEFA European Championship Qualifying. Lod joins Minnesota United from La Liga 2 side Sporting de Gijon where he made 24 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring four goals and assisting on another three.

Per head coach Adrian Heath, Minnesota United had been keeping tabs on Lod for more than a year, back when he played for Panathinaikos Football Club in the Greek Super League.

“We’re really excited that he’s decided to join us,” said Heath. “He’s been outstanding, in form for the Finland National team, who are undefeated, at the top of their European qualifying group. I think his game suits the MLS to a ‘t’ and I’m expecting big things from him. He can score goals, he can make goals, he can play three or four positions. I think he can play through the middle, he can certainly play in wide areas. He’s going to be a great addition to what we already have and I’m hoping that Robin is the first of two or three [additions] during this window.”

While Heath touted Lod’s positional flexibility, an MNUFC press release was sent out with the sub headline: “Loons add attacking left-winger to roster.” Lod immediately stands out among Minnesota’s wide attacking options as the only left-footed player. Recently, Ethan Finlay, Miguel Ibarra and Kevin Molino have been rotated as starters on the wings in Heath’s preferred 4-2-3-1.

In central midfield, Osvaldo Alonso and Ján Greguš have been automatic selections when fit. And with right back Romain Métanire returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, rookie sensation Hassani Dotson — deputized as a fullback, but seen by Heath as a No. 6 long term — might also be looking for minutes in central midfield.

Wherever Lod ends up playing for the Loons, he’ll have to perform well enough to displace an incumbent in the Loons’ first XI. Given sporting director Manny Lagos committed TAM to acquire Lod, it’s a safe assumption that is Minnesota’s expectation.

Prior to his time playing abroad, Lod made his senior professional debut at the age of 18 for  HJK Helsinki in Finland’s first division. During his five seasons with HJK, Lod helped them win four league titles and a pair of domestic cups. Lod was also a teammate of current MNUFC midfielder Rasmus Schüller as both played for HJK from 2012 to 2015.

However, Lod’s arrival in Minnesota coincides with recent comments from Schüller given to the Finnish press that his time in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is likely drawing to a close. Schüller has made just one appearance in the Loons’ last six league games, playing all 90 minutes at Montreal July 6 as Heath rotated his squad during a congested portion of Minnesota’s schedule.

Lod won’t be the first in his family to play soccer in the U.S. Lod’s father, Tomi, currently the CEO of Finnish financial management software and service company Clausion, earned a philosophy degree from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. The elder Lod was a four-year letter winner for Kalamazoo’s men’s soccer team, playing for the Hornets from 1979 to 1982.

Lod trained with Minnesota United Tuesday and should be available for selection as soon as his paperwork is in order.




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