- After five seasons it is hard to immediately remember a Minnesota United team that looked as organized or played with as much purpose and identity as Austin FC is doing in their first. The only possible exception might be the defensive organization of the 2019 team with Ozzie Alonso, Vito Mannone, and Ike Opara. But Head Coach Josh Wolff has his team - the first eleven as well as the substitutes - playing as a team. Something Coach Adrian Heath has yet to achieve. With a bit more optimism it might be possible to point to the score line last night and argue that the Loons were one Emanuel Reynoso post, one Ethan Finlay - what shall we call that attempted chip? a total meltdown? - miss, one Patrick Weah crashing header away from at least picking up some points. But that, as Heath has said, would have been quite cruel. Except for Ozzie and Wil Trapp, MNUFC were comprehensively beaten by a team that they are better than, as reflected in the deceptively close score line. It might also be possible to argue that all three losses to start the season have come down to individual mistakes. But individual mistakes only always lead to goals and losses, only stand out so obviously and with such dire consequences within a broken system.
- Oh, wait, are we supposed to be trying on all three of these? Sorry. I guess, then, play the kids! With six injuries heading into last night’s game options were limited, but Heath seems to have gotten the few decisions he did have to make wrong. Ramón Ábila has not yet found his touch or his fitness, and Hassani Dotson and Ethan Finley added very little on the outsides. Dotson looked better but, as he mentioned in his post-game comments, is still learning to play wide. And if Reynoso really was carrying an injury what was the upside to the risk of playing him? Aside from the fact that he is the only consistent offensive idea. The one right decision was to start Ozzie and Trapp together. They complemented each other in a way that Ján Greguš and Trapp do not yet. Their play together was one of the few positives of the game. That being said, this is a team that has quite a bit of youthful talent. Sitting at 0-3 there is no reason to not allow Dotson a chance at the defensive midfield position when he can learn and grow into the role under Ozzie’s guidance. And although it doesn’t look like Justin McMaster or Weah are starters yet they have certainly shown enough to be getting significant minutes, at least until Franco Fragapane and Adrien Hunou are fully fit and integrated into the team.
Is this really what year five should feel like?