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What will suspensions make MNUFC’s lineup look like this weekend?

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Suspensions for Warner and Calvo will complicate things.

July 14, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath is left frustrated with the collapse of his players during post match press conference after Minnesota United defeated Real Salt Lake 3-2 at TCF Bank Stadium. 

(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)
July 14, 2018 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath is left frustrated with the collapse of his players during post match press conference after Minnesota United defeated Real Salt Lake 3-2 at TCF Bank Stadium. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Minnesota United’s 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy on Saturday night was arguably the best realistic outcome of the match as the Loons claimed their first away draw of the season and earned their first road point since March 10th.

But the road trip continues, and that point against the Galaxy may have come at the expense of United’s next fixture: away to FC Dallas.

Midfielder Collen Warner and defender—and captain—Francisco Calvo will both be suspended for the matchup against Dallas. The former comes through yellow card accumulation, while the latter comes from the accumulation of two needless yellow cards in a single match.

There are bigger issues that arise from the two cautions that Calvo earned on Saturday, as well as questions of whether a player that cannot control their emotions on the field should be the captain, but Warner’s suspension is far less of a concern. While it is obviously unfortunate, midfielders in his role simply pick up yellow cards from time to time—it’s part of the job.

Needless or not, Warner and Calvo are now suspended and the starting eleven will have to change to compensate. Manager Adrian Heath now has a decision (or a few of them) to make.

Does he stick with the 3-5-2 that was adopted midseason and been largely successful? A model of how it could work is laid out below:

A potential 3-5-2

Much of the formation is unchanged. But rookie Wyatt Omsberg comes in to replace Calvo and Collin Martin would fill Warner’s spot.

Is Omsberg ready for this role? He’s started before and been a consistent addition to the match day squad, so this could be a good test for where he’s at in his progression. This could also open up a chance for Bertrand Owundi to find his way onto the bench and possibly the playing field. The other option here would be having a player like Tyrone Mears, or even Eric Miller, tuck in as one of the center backs. That would be a little bit riskier to ask a fullback to play that role.

Martin has generally been the first midfielder off the bench so far this season, so it’s natural that he’d been the one to replace Warner. Maximiano would normally be an interesting choice, but it appears that his knee injury is worse than initially thought as he has now been on the injury report for the last two weeks. There could be a chance for Harrison Heath to come off the bench here.

One other lineup option would be reverting back to the 4-2-3-1:

In many ways, the 4-2-3-1 is the best compromise for the suspended players. With United missing a defender and a central midfielder, this formation removes a defender and a central midfielder and adds two wingers.

It also puts players like Miller and Mears in their natural roles as “true fullbacks,” as opposed to wingbacks. Miguel Ibarra and Romario Ibarra are freed up to focus on the attack and overlap play along the tough lines resumes. Darwin Quintero sits back a little bit further, but Angelo Rodriguez ideally gets a little bit more support.

Abu Danladi’s pace does make him an option on the wings, so he, or even Frantz Pangop, could fill in there if need be.

Here’s one last could-be XI for the Loons:

I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest a 3-4-3 somewhere along the line. The bulk of it is much like the 3-5-2, and carries the same caveats. But there is now room for one more attacker, likely one who would sit underneath Rodriguez. Danladi played in this role briefly against the Galaxy and it enables the front three to have a degree of freedom and movement. Mason Toye, who will be back from his loan to Colorado Springs for the game, could turn the formation into more of a 3-4-1-2 if need be.

What formation/starting eleven would you like to see from the Loons against FC Dallas? Let us know in the comments section below.