Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window always creates a buzz around the league. This year’s edition is no exception, especially with a new team like Minnesota United looking to add players to the roster. The Loons have already added two players to the squad: Scottish winger Sam Nicholson, who was out of contract with Heart of Midlothian, and New Zealand international Michael Boxall, who was released by South African power SuperSport United.
Since both players were out of contracts, they had an option on where they would play next. Nicholson had several offers on the table from clubs in England, while Boxall could have found a starting spot in his native New Zealand, so what brought them to Minnesota?
For Nicholson, it was the culture around Minnesota United. “I loved it straightaway,” he explained.” I had a good feeling that this was the place for me...I just said to my agent, ‘That’s the place for me’. I’m here, and I’m loving it.”
Boxall, on the other hand, was attracted by the reputation of manager Adrian Heath. “Some of my old teammates played for [him],” he noted. “They said that they really recommended Adian as a coach and how he likes to work with players.”
Heath wasn’t the only thing that appealed to Boxall. “I was looking for a new challenge,” he admitted, “MLS is such a growing league and to be in an expansion team is a difficult challenge, but obviously one that excites me.”
Even though both players haven’t been in Minnesota for long, they’re ready to work. Nicholson’s priority is to “help out the team as much as I can”. For him, that means getting “fit as early as possible”. Boxall aims to “get my feet set and become one of the boys” in the short term but he hopes to “help solidify the back line and help us win as many games as possible” over the rest of the season.
Joining a team midway through the season isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
“[The players who have been in the team from the beginning] have put in all the hard work over the last six months,” explained Michael Boxall. “[I] just kinda show up halfway through.”
Sam Nicholson and Boxall are sure to help alleviate some of the issues the Loons have faced so far, but manager Adrian Heath thinks there is more work to be done. “The first eleven need a little bit more competition,” he said, “I personally would like to see if we could [bring in] four or five, but that might be a bit optimistic.”
UPDATE: Goalkeeper Alex Kapp has been training with #MNUFC for two weeks. He's impressing, and a likely candidate to be the 3rd GK.— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) July 13, 2017
One move could already be in the works. Jeff Reuter reported that Alex Kapp, a goalkeeper who was drafted by Atlanta United out of Creighton, has been training with Minnesota for a couple of weeks. A third goalkeeper, who was wearing number 30 at Thursday’s training session, was splitting reps with starter Bobby Shuttleworth and current backup Patrick McLain. A club representative called him “just a guy” but it appears likely the mystery man was in fact Alex Kapp. A move for Kapp to replace John Alvbage could certainly be in the works.
“There’s a lot of phone calls going on around the league at this moment,” divulged Adrian Heath. Quite a few of those involve Minnesota United, so moves should be on the way.