Already this offseason, Minnesota United FC has announced the addition of JC Banks, an acquisition of a quality player who fills a crucial need. Much more can be done, however. (PANIC) We shouldn’t be content until there’s quality competition for every position in the starting XI, at least until we can go toe to toe with Real Madrid.
With that in mind, we’ve taken the liberty of speculating wildly about who Minnesota United FC might pick-up this offseason. Some of these players are more likely pick-ups than others, but at the bare minimum, we’ve tried to stay true to finding players who are at some level plausible, which means no Zlatan Ibrahimović. (Sorry)
We’ve also largely avoided considering older players in favor of exciting prospects. The reason for this is purely selfish, we want to dream about the next Miguel Ibarra or Christian Ramirez. While functional and crucial to success, the Juliano Vicentini’s of the world are harder and less interesting to dredge up. (Though signing Pa Modou Kah would be hilarious).
Our picks come from established lists of prospects and transfer rumors, with a dash of Wikipedia and Youtube investigation. We believe that Minnesota United FC has a lot to offer: this is a winning club proven to be a home of exciting and skilled players. The club has financial resources that for the right player can outgun most other NASL sides and can match offers from abroad. To many young players looking for a setting that will both raise their game and profile, Minnesota could be an intriguing choice.
With all of that said, here’s our list:
— GK | 21 | United States —
With the departure of Matt VanOekel, the first choice for the Loons is now Mitch Hildebrandt, with Andrew Fontein retained as a back-up. The role of third choice goalkeeper is likely the most anonymous on the team, and yet one is necessary. There’s nobody we’d rather see fill that role more than Southampton academy prospect, U-23 USMNT goalkeeper, and Minnesota native Cody Cropper.
Cropper is behind the slightly older Argentine Paulo Gazzaniga in Southampton’s development order and has gotten a few youth games this season, but less than he may have hoped for. A summer loan to the top team from his home state might be a perfect way for Cropper to supplement his education. It’s unlikely that Cropper would be called upon to take over starting duties, but he could see time in the US Open Cup and midweek fixtures, all the while staying sharp close to home. It would be a great arrangement as well for Minnesota soccer as a whole, who would get an up close look at a local player with a promising future.
— CDM | 23 | Gambia —
Sanyang is a defensive midfielder and sometime defender who has a lot of professional experience for his age. At 23, he has already played in 20 matches for Toronto FC and 53 for the Charleston Battery. He is a conservative midfielder, committed to his task of shielding the defense, which could offer an interesting change of pace for United, who currently employ nearly all box-to-box players. He also, like Aaron Pitchkolan, could be used to plug an unexpected hole in central defense, and there is certainly a need for further depth in that position.
— CM | 21 | Senegal —
Out of contract (Last with Orlando City)
Adama Mbengue featured with Orlando City SC and was one of the USL PRO players who the club did not cut, but offered further deals for MLS. Mbengue could not come to terms in South Florida, and it has been reported that he is heading to France to test the waters there with several well-known teams. If he is not offered a contract in Ligue 1, he could be a steal if he is willing to return to the US. Just 21, Mbengue has 53 appearances with the Lions over the last two seasons, with 28 of them coming in the past season. He is an aggressive player and is confident in his shooting ability. Given Orlando’s overtures and his speculation overseas, Mbengue is clearly ready for a higher level and Minnesota United might be able to offer it to him.
— CAM | 24 | Brazil —
Western Sydney Wanderers
Last season, the Loons raided the Hyundai A-League, snapping up out of favor Tiago Calvano from Sydney FC, then infamously signing Richard Garcia from the same club. While Garcia’s signing would be all but nixed by visa problems, Tiago’s pick-up was an influential move. The center-back started most of United’s games and was named to the NASL Best XI.
Vitor Saba is another Brazilian player looking to get out from down under. The 24 year old creative midfielder arrived with Western Sydney Wanderers from Serie B with some excitement and is a fan favorite. However, WSW is struggling mightily in the league despite their Cinderella run to the Club World Cup, and they are looking to offload talent. Saba is among the first names rumored to be up for grabs, having made public his frustration with a lack of playing time. With no success getting off the bench for a free-falling team, Saba might be enticed by the chance to move to an ambitious American club with a strong Brazilian contingent.
— CAM | 25 | England —
Out of contract (Last with Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Mark Anderson is the one NASL name that interests us. Like Luke Mulholland last year, Anderson is the clear prize in this offseason’s market. The England native has spent the past six years in the United States, and it’s hard to think that he would receive more compelling offers from elsewhere. With the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last season, Anderson is a fiesty but skilled midfielder who usually plays in an advanced central role. His best known quality is undoubtedly his ability to shoot from range (something the Loons desperately could use) which has led him to 19 goals in 65 appearances with the red and gold. In the semi-final against the Loons, Anderson nearly put the visitors up early, lobbing Matt VanOekel and hitting the top of the crossbar.
Anderson has had a similar career to Luke Mulholland, although he is probably not quite as good as the RSL midfielder. His proven success in NASL might over-inflate his value a bit within the league. But it would be a surprise to hear that Minnesota has not at least made inquiries with regards to the most interesting free agent in the league right now.
— RW | 22 | New Zealand —
Western Sydney Wanderers
Appiah is the Kiwi son of Ghanian parents, and an ambitious winger for Western Sydney. Like Saba, he appears to be completely out of favor with management, and is widely expected to be shipped. The young winger has hardly done enough in his career to merit a big money move, but at 22 he is said to have a good deal of potential.
Like Saba, he could use a complete change of scenery and may also relish the chance to play and show his skills in the larger American market.
— FW | 24 | Estonia —
Subbotin came to our attention as one of the most prolific goal scorers in the world in 2014. Of course, Subbotin’s 34 goals in 41 games came in the Estonian first division, a league ranked 41st of 53 in Europe. But Levadia Tallinn are the Bayern Munich of Estonia, so to speak, and Subbotin has been capped for his country. Between Christian Ramirez and Pablo Campos, it’s unlikely that the Loons will invest too heavily in another forward, but you won’t hear us complaining about more talent. Plus, the Dark Clouds wave an Estonian flag around anyway, so he’d feel right at home.
— FW | 21 | Panama —
Remember Arroyo? We’ll forgive you if not. The young Panamanian came to Minnesota United FC over the summer on trial and actually got a short run out as a sub for Christian Ramirez against Swansea City! For whatever reason, the club did not sign Arroyo that summer, and the young forward returned to Panama, where he performed acceptably in the 2014 Liga Panameña de Fútbol apertura, appearing 13 times as a starter and scoring four times in three of those games.
United has a habit of signing former trialists well after the end of their trial. Christian Ramirez and JC Banks were both signed after training with the Loons. While we know little about the circumstances of Arroyo’s trial (he seemed to leave immediately after we learned about him), it seems important that he got his foot in the door. With pressure sure to come on Christian Ramirez and with Pablo Campos’ position in the team uncertain beyond 2015, Arroyo could be a strong prospect for the future.
— FW | 25 | USA —
Out of contract (Last with Jagodina)
Okay, we’re just kidding about this one.
Who would you like to see Minnesota United sign? Let us know on social media or in the comments!