As part of an ongoing series from SB Nation, we are taking a quick look back at the season for Minnesota United . . . .
How did the 2017 season go?
Honestly it was fine. At the start of the season, it looked like it was going to be much, much worse. I realize that this is a very Minnesotan outlook on the season, but I think it can be best summed up with, “Can’t complain.”
What we learned:
I think we learned that Scandinavia is not the ideal place to find MLS talent. It is the easy joke to make, but I will still make it whenever possible.
Game that best summarized the season:
The easiest answer is the 3-2 victory in Atlanta. MNUFC played well enough and found an early breakthrough, but even a man down, Atlanta United still took the lead. It took MNUFC’s two best offensive players, Christian Ramirez and Kevin Molino, to pull out the victory.
What went right:
The NASL holdovers (mostly) were some the main contributors to the success this season. Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Brent Kallman, and Ibson went from the lower level league to Major League Soccer with ease.
And the trade for Sam Cronin/Marc Burch, the trade for Ethan Finlay, and the acquisition of Sam Nicholson all helped turn the season around.
What went wrong:
Most of the January signings. I say most because Francisco Calvo has been the lone bright spot of the group. Vadim Demidov, John Alvbage, Rasmus Schuller, Bashkim Kadrii, and Josh Gatt were all swings and misses.
For me, the biggest surprise was the play of some of the NASL holdovers. I did not expect Ramirez to take the league by storm like he did. I did not expect Kallman to be one of the more consistent backs that the team would have. And I certainly did not expect Ibson to be as big a midfield force as he turned into this season.
Unexpectedly awesome performance:
The most unexpected performance this season was almost every performance this season by Bobby Shuttleworth. I was not happy to watch the team trade Femi Hollinger-Janzen, but this season would have gone very differently without Bobby.
Player who fell short of expectations:
I’ve talked about the “January Signings” enough, so shifting I will have to say Kevin Venegas and Justin Davis. The only two of the NASL holdovers that did not make much of an impact at all this season. I thought they would have done something at the very least, but they appear to be out of their league.
What needs to change for 2018:
The team needs to add a true #10 that can provide better service for Ramirez and Abu Danladi. MNUFC still needs to shore up the defense, and finding another center midfielder that can connect the defense to the offense is imperative. The team is just a few pieces away from truly competing, I’d like to believe at least.
B. Adrian Heath has his flaws, but he took what he was given and kept the team from imploding.
Overall team grade:
I’ll give the Loons a solid C. They teetered on the brink of historic ineptitude, actually competed for a playoff spot, and still gave up 70 goals breaking the Colorado Rapids’ record for goals against.