Minnesota United FC

Loons Calling: How Minnesota United is Exceeding Expectations by Carl Carpenter

Making the step up from the NASL into Major League Soccer can be extremely difficult (commiserations Cincinnati fans), and Minnesota’s first two seasons in MLS are an excellent example of this. Defensively, the Loons struggled to keep the ball out of the net consistently (Statistically the worst defense in the league in 2017, and tied for third worst in 2018). Adrian Heath’s insistence on playing a high-risk/high-reward brand of soccer was seen as extremely foolhardy considering the construction of his roster, and his history of “brand over results” which ultimately cost him his job at Orlando City. 

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Expected Narratives: There's a Bad Loon on the Rise by Ian L.

It finally happened! I got one right last week! I did! I was doing a sarcasm and lo and behold I got a take dead on. ANALYSIS! Yes Atlanta and Cincinnati did in fact turn out to be a low scoring affair between two evenly matched sides. It feels like six months ago I was called a straight up hater for raising my eyebrows at De Boer’s most recent entries on his resume, but now discussing whether or not he knows what he’s doing is the take du jour. What can I say folks? I was bashing FDB before most of you had even heard of him. I have it on vinyl.

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Minnesota United FC 2019 Season Preview by Ryan Anderson

I have the unfortunate pleasure of being both a Minnesota United fan and a soccer analytics nerd. MNUFC was bad last year…and the year before that. Historically bad. Despite how genuinely entertaining their home games are to attend, my fanaticism ached for the Loons to cease their fruitless flapping. But every so often I hear the voice of reason telling me to come to my senses and wake to the comforting reality: “they could have been worse.”

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Little Things from Week 11 by Harrison Hamm

Welcome to Little Things, a weekly look at some of the nuances that occur in MLS games. Technical and tactical aspects will be looked at to better evaluate players and teams on a larger scale, and of course statistics will be put to use.

Here’s our inaugural analysis, including an example of how not to press by Minnesota United, an interesting set piece fad, and an impressive build-up by Orlando City:

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Minnesota United 2018 Season Preview by Ian L.

Minnesota United entered the league in 2017 to very low expectations and still barely managed to meet them. While occasional flashes of quality may rightly gives fans hope for 2018, more still needs to be done if they’re to be considered a serious contender in the Western conference.

2017 in Review

“Well, that didn't wind up being as bad as we thought it was going to be” is about as lukewarm a review that one could proffer, but it certainly fits. While I certainly don’t think many people would have given Minnesota any chance at making the postseason in their first year of Major League Soccer, the Loons sure gave us all a pretty big scare by opening the campaign conceding 20 goals in their first five matches. Minnesota’s inauspicious start led to many people wondering if they were going to be not just the regular amount of bad, but historically bad, like worse than Chivas bad.

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Kevin Molino is still very good by Harrison Crow

Two years ago I first composed a list of my top under-appreciated wide midfielders. Guys like Mike Grella, Kekuta Manneh, Patrick Nyarko, Lamar Neagle, Lloyd Sam and Sebastian Le Toux painted the top of my list. Again, no, I’ve never done work for DC United.

When sifting through some old USL numbers, which long ago went extinct due to the merger between USL and MLS, I came away enamored with Kevin Molino. He sat at the top of my list of wide midfielders and I ended up getting him for a steal in our fantasy draft that year.

It seems Molino is the type of player that in a lot of ways floats under the radar of many fans in Major League Soccer. This may be partially due to a wrecked ACL during an exhibition game in May of 2015 which ended his first season in MLS prematurely. The lost season forfeited most of the “possibly interesting” stock that was seeded him coming into the league when he had blown out the scoring and assist records in USL.

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Adrian Heath’s High Risk Approach to Defense by Kevin Minkus

With Jeff Cassar’s firing last Monday and the announcement of Mike Petke as the new RSL coach, part of the conversation among MLS fans and analysts turned to which remaining coach held the hottest seat. The top candidates included Dom Kinnear, Jay Heaps, and Carl Robinson. Also in the discussion, at least somewhat seriously, was Minnesota United’s Adrian Heath, a man who has been at the helm there for four total games. Over those four games Minnesota has conceded a league worst 18 goals, for a goal difference of -12. They've allowed 38 shots from inside their 18, including nine shots from inside the six yard box. Both are the most in the league (and second most on a per game basis). That Heath’s name comes up in the conversation suggests an overall lack of preparedness that, to some, might be damning.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. A lot has already been written on Minnesota’s defensive flaws (including from our own Harrison Crow), and I don’t want to pile on. I’m more concerned about answering whether these struggles could've been anticipated in light of Heath’s performance managing Orlando City’s 2015 expansion campaign. Are the problems Minnesota now faces the same that plagued Orlando City that season? And, if so, does Orlando City’s experience point towards a solution?

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Is Minnesota Really The Worst Defensive Team In MLS History? by Harrison Crow

Let me say, first and foremost, I have a fondness for the underdog or down and out. My first true love, the Seattle Mariners, have the longest tenured playoff drought in Major League Baseball. They've missed out on 15 straight seasons of postseason play much due to their own ineptitude.

So I don’t write this to demean what is happening in MLS to Minnesota, as the expansion club is taking body shots both on and off the field with the tremendously rough start they’ve faced over the last month.

Let me say, first and foremost, I have a fondness for the underdog or down and out. My first true love, the Seattle Mariners, have the longest tenured playoff drought in Major League Baseball. They've missed out on 15 straight seasons of postseason play much due to their own ineptitude.

So I don’t write this to demean what is happening in MLS to Minnesota, as the expansion club is taking body shots both on and off the field with the tremendously rough start they’ve faced over the last month.

After their third loss in four games, all with opponents posting five or more goals, most pundits are ready to declare the Loons on the path to having the worst MLS season of all-time. These types of narratives aren’t really anything new for the start of any particular sports season. Especially when they’re so blatant and obvious.

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Minnesota United 2017 Season Preview by Phil Luetchford

Minnesota United is new to MLS, but unlike fellow expansion side Atlanta United (everyone is united nowadays) this is not an entirely new team. The Loons leave the NASL, where they have played under a few other names since 2010.  While it's a club with a solid history and strong supporters, for most MLS and USMNT fans Minnesota didn't enter their consciousness until October 2014, when winger Miguel Ibarra became the first 2nd division player to train with the national team since 2005. He was called up five times by Jurgen Klinsmann, and parlayed that international exposure into a contract with Club Leon in the summer of 2015, before returning to sign with Minnesota this season. But while Ibarra is certainly an attacking threat, he never led the team in scoring. For each of the last three seasons that’s been Christian Ramirez, who led the NASL in scoring two of the last three years (he finished 2nd in 2015).

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North American Soccer League and its 2013 First Half by Drew Olsen

The last 12 months have been rather eventful for the North American Soccer League (NASL). A league that once folded before some of us were born has begun to become some what relevant again. Even putting aside the excitement surrounding the return of the New York Cosmos to professional soccer---a team that is surrounded and entrenched in US Soccer history---one sees how well the league fared against some of the MLS clubs. NASL knocked out two of the big dogs in the LA Galaxy (2-0, Carolina RailHawks) and Seattle Sounders FC (1-0, Tampa Bay Rowdies) this past year.

Add that to the expansion plans of the league outside of New York. This past year they've added Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City to their growing portfolio. These were shrewd moves to get toe holds in two cities that have limited professional sports and strengthen their ties in Florida, what with three soccer cities in South Florida and four in the Southeastern region.

The league is obviously poised for a positive return.

Living in Tampa for the next few months, I plan on taking in at least one match (this weekend in their Derby game vs. Fort Lauderdale) and checking out the scene.

Okay, there is the narrative. Let's take a look at the table and some numbers:

Shot info


Advanced Shot Info


Table Data


Okay, my new friends here in Tampa won't like this very much but Fort Lauderdale should have finished much higher in the table. The disparity in the table between Minnesota and the Strikers is amazing considering the shot data. Though, between expected points and PDO, maybe United FC finished about where they should expect.

There is surprisingly a lot of data in these supplied match reports. I know it may not seem like it, but there is. The time stamped shots can give us a bit more insight to the context of the shots. While we still can't get to know some of the players (outside of the goal scorers) as well, it helps us get to know the teams as a whole within that league.

You can say what you want, but I love the idea of NASL growing and becoming legit competition with MLS. I love USL, NASL and MLS playing in the Open Cup, and I love seeing the sport grow in the country.

I'll continue to throw NASL data out as I collect it. With my new city having an NASL team and a derby game this weekend, I thought it a great time to put this stuff out there. Now talk among yourselves...