The folks over at E Pluribus Loonum were kind enough to answer five questions about Minnesota United ahead of the match against the Quakes Saturday. You can find those below, and be sure to check out their site for more information on San Jose’s next opponent!
Q: The win against Vancouver seems like a step in the right direction. How does the team look this year?
In short, better. They’re on pace to concede 68 goals this year, which would be the Loons’ first season south of 70. The attack -- which hasn’t really changed -- looks good and the defense is certainly improved. Set-piece defending was still an issue against Vancouver, but from open play, this team looked really good. It’s still a matter of tightening down a few things, but the team’s first away win in 357 days coming for the season opener is definitely a good start.
Q: What are the expectations for the team this year after failing to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons?
It’s the playoffs, bottom line. Since Minnesota joined MLS in 2017, the ownership/front office have been preaching a three-year plan that peaks this year with the opening of Allianz Field. We initially assumed that this meant there would be a progression, but after 2018 was the same (maybe even worse) as 2017, the expectations are up there for this plan to succeed.
Q: There are a handful of new additions for Minnesota in its third year -- who should Quakes fans be keeping an eye out for?
The one we were most impressed with in the opener was right back Romain Metanire. He’s a TAM fullback, which isn’t the most common thing, but he seems to have it all. He came in from Reims in Ligue 1, so he’s got experience against some top attackers there. Look for Ján Greguš and Ozzie Alonso in the midfield too as they looked decent. Ike Opara at centerback and Vito Mannone (who has Premier League) experience should certainly help as well.
Q: The goal differential numbers were eerily similar for United in both 2017 and 2018. Is there reason to believe things will be different in 2019?
There is. Opara, the 2017 Defender of the Year, should definitely help hold things down. Metanire seems to be a clear upgrade at right back and Francisco Calvo, who has said he prefers playing centrally, is actually a great option at left back. Alonso arrived to fill a big hole at the no. 6 position and it showed in the Vancouver game. It’s hard to say how the defense will hold up in the long run, but it should be much better.
Q: Christian Ramirez was The Guy for Minnesota to start the club’s MLS life. Where do you expect the majority of the goals to come from with him in LA?
Ideally, Angelo Rodriguez, his replacement, would, but the jury’s still out on him. We should see a fair amount from Darwin Quintero, of course, but it falls on the other attackers as well. Romario Ibarra has been in the mix as a starter, but he’s a little bit more of a false nine, so it’s not clear how that role would look with this offense.
Thanks again to the folks at E Pluribus Loonum!