Sounds like the start of a joke, right?
The one thing (of many) that became apparent during Minnesota United FC’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer was the lack of strength up the middle of the pitch. The center back and midfield positions were a game of musical chairs early in the season. Defenders Michael Boxall, Francisco Calvo, Brent Kallman and Jerome Thiesson rotated in and out while midfielders Ibson, Sam Cronin, Kevin Molino and Collin Martin pitched in up the middle of the pitch. Manager Adrian Health could never find a combination that was particularly effective. That’s where Lee Nguyen could ocme in.
Stability in the Middle
Nguyen is a six-year veteran in the MLS as an attacking midfielder for the New England Revolution. It has been well documented that Nguyen has become displeased with his role with the Revolution and requested a transfer over the off season. Revolution manager Brad Friedel has also made it clear that “he’s not being traded” . So there is an impasse it would seem. Will Nguyen be traded? No way to know for sure but I can’t imagine getting less than 100% from an unhappy player the could cause chemistry issues on the team being beneficial as a trade for either party.
It might be a pipe dream to see Lee Nguyen in a MNUFC kit next season but we can all dream, right? One of the biggest problems in the middle was the simple inability to connect midfield transitions to Christian Ramirez and the wingers. The inability to transition to the attack not only limited offensive punch but also put undue pressure on the Loons’ defenders.
Adding an attacking midfielder like Nguyen could make a immediate and noticeable change. Nguyen has a well rounded game, he can play short passing combinations and distribute the ball to those with better opportunity. He can also play the more attacking style when needed.
Lee wouldn’t fix the issue of transitions on his own but he’s a natural 10. Kevin Molino wasn’t particularly good at the 10 last season but he is more comfortable on the outside. Having a solid 10 would allow Molino the opportunity to shine at his best position. If MNUFC could also upgrade at defensive midfielder perhaps with a quality attacking midfielder they could go to more of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
If you’ve been following us here at E Pluribus Loonum (or any other MNUFC-oriented media source) you’ve probably heard that the team is in strenuous talks with Colombian side Deportivo Cali for a possible transfer of young attacker Nicolas Benedetti. There’s not much footage to study off Benedetti but from the little I’ve seen he certainly warrants the attention he’s getting from the Loons. He projects as an attacking midfielder in the MLS and he certainly has the offensive skill set to lead an attack. He has the a remarkable skill for getting shots off in traffic and when closely contended. Stronger with the right foot than the left but solid with both. Shows solid feel on passes and good on set pieces.
I do wonder if he ends up truly being an attacking midfielder or if he doesn’t eventually become a striker. He’s very aggressive and offensive minded, more so than Lee Nguyen. Still, Benedetti is just 20 years old and no doubt will get better.
Benedetti could possibly add some offensive punch but doesn’t solve the play in the defensive midfield positions. According to Jeff Rueter MNUFC is in the process of acquiring another Cameroonian player, this time possibly a defensive midfielder. We don’t know the name yet but Jeff hinted at that it was a bigger name this time. Only a guess on my part but maybe Frank Boya?
Wrapping it up
Everything is speculation now but I would say that of these three transactions the one most likely to happen is the transfer of the Cameroonian, which has been reported to be a solid agreement, followed by Nico Benedetti. Lee Nguyen would be great as well but he’s 31 and imprisoned by Brad Friedel with the Revolution so it’s highly unlikely. In any case, it makes for some fun off season discussion.
Thoughts? You know where to find the comments section.