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The Angle

Rewind That: Minnesota United Upgrades a Winning Side

by on 6 April 2017

In his fifth installment of Rewind That, Jeff Rueter looks at the footage from Minnesota’s first MLS victory. The Loons were sharp against Real Salt Lake, putting the reeling team from Utah in their rearview mirrors. Still, Minnesota has two fresh faces with serious MLS experience joining their ranks. How do they fit into the picture?

At last, a win. Things were getting touch-and-go for a minute there, as I was running out of ways to talk about what was going wrong in Minnesota. One of my peers keenly observed this in last week’s installment.

While Schief was right — the act of re-watching wasn’t always pretty — it did give plenty of fodder to dissect each week. And, in a way, winning 4-2 against Real Salt Lake did the same thing. The attack was hungry as ever, the defending was crisp as they’d been all year (which, you have to admit, isn’t saying much), and the substitutions were well-timed. In total; it was a complete win.

Earlier in the week, Schieferdecker deliberated whether this team is Dr. Jekyll of last Saturday or Mr. Hyde from their horrifying March results. However, I’m more interested in the trade that stumped pundits across the internet on Friday.

This hard analysis summed up the bulk of Colorado Rapids fans’ feelings. Cronin and Burch were vital pieces of the Rapids’ DNA since 2015. Those two were as responsible for their stingy defense in their 2016 Supporters’ Shield campaign as anyone, and needless to say Minnesota could benefit from any ounce of that wherewithal. Where do they plug in, and how soon?

Sam steps in

Make no mistake: Sam Cronin is a vital piece of Minnesota’s puzzle and has been from the start.

“Leadership, American, lot of experience in the league. We thought that ship had sailed and built our roster without him, but he continued to be a piece we thought we didn’t quite have.”
-Amos Magee on Sam Cronin

Minnesota was close to acquiring him ahead of the Expansion Draft with a package that would’ve largely consisted of allocation money. Those talks led to the Joe Greenspan deal, but Minnesota was in a loose dialogue with Colorado afterwards. Needless to say, you can bank on him starting against FC Dallas and any week he’s healthy from here on out.

I chatted with Amos Magee over at MLSsoccer.com to get a sense of how long Cronin had been in their sights. I won’t rehash much of what’s over there, but here were my main takeaways: Cronin was somebody that Magee, Adrian Heath, and Manny Lagos all saw as their ideal defensive midfielder. “He checks off a lot of boxes,” Magee said in a quote from the cutting room floor, “Leadership, American, lot of experience in the league. We thought that ship had sailed and built our roster without him, but he continued to be a piece we thought we didn’t quite have.”

Who gives way?

For the second straight week, Minnesota trotted out Ibson and Collen Warner in the midfield. While the result was pretty, I think the midfield was actually the Loons’ weakest area of the pitch.

You bet, Adam.

For a second consecutive week, Ibson is that close to directly costing his team a goal with his failure to get back on defense. If United had gone down 2-0 in the 16th minute, I’m not sure they’d recover with so much aplomb.

While Ibson is a massively gifted player technically, that same ability gets him into trouble sometimes. Here, he fails to look up to clear a ball after a corner kick and dribbles around instead.

Ibson is in a prime place to turn, look up, and either clear or spring a counter attack. Compare that to Warner in a similar situation.

Ibson does well to deflect an RSL pass, and the ball finds its way to Warner. Immediately, Warner lifts his head and sees Johan Venegas bombing forward, playing a ball up to him. With a fortunate bounce, Minnesota got a legitimate counter. It wasn’t a one-off, either.

Again, Warner immediately sees that Ramirez has an open lane and tries a ball. While Ramirez is onside, the ball carries too far and Nick Rimando easily gathers it. Still, it’s a signal of intent, and shows Warner’s ability to think about springing his offense. If he’ll partner with an equally defensive-minded player like Cronin, that recognition will be vital.

…on the left hand side

Meanwhile, Burch is less of a sure thing to start immediately than Cronin. We’ll start with the counterpoint to my starting lineup, coming from Rapids Rabbi of Burgundy Wave:

The gist of it, and a common refrain across the league, is that Burch is a criminally underrated defender. In general, left backs don’t get a lot of love around the league, and Burch has shown an ability to cross the ball. Just look at his assist on the game-tying goal against Minnesota.

And yet… I’m not so confident that he’s going to unseat the incumbent Justin Davis. The reasoning is threefold: first, Heath asserted in his post-game press conference that he only pulls players if they’ve played themselves out of the lineup. While Davis was easily cast aside by Yura Movsisyan on RSL’s second goal, a left back will always look inferior to a target forward. It was a two-on-two, and Davis was mismatched. He did well to neutralize Liverpool loanee Brooks Lennon on the day. In fact, Davis had the third-highest rating for the Loons by way of the Audi Player Index.

Second, Magee confirmed that the Loons were still “very confident” in Davis. He’s been steady in his last two appearances. While Burch may have a strong delivery, don’t sleep on Davis’. You may remember his perfect long-cross to Ramirez in the game-winning goal against the Cosmos in 2016. That was hardly a one-off.

With Bashkim Kadrii in front of him, Davis rarely made it into the attacking third. Still, this ball from the second half was lethal, and Minnesota was unfortunate that nobody was on the end of it. Unless Davis has a shocker in the coming weeks, I’m leaving him in my lineup.

Next on the fix-it list?

Speaking of Kadrii…

Magee was quick to answer that the team wasn’t done improving this spring. As he put it, “if we found an unbelievable option that would fit in, we’d do that. We’d do that with any position.”

Up until this last week, I would’ve said that the next priority to upgrade would’ve been left back. Miguel Ibarra has yet to impress this year, and Kadrii was mostly invisible in March. However, he turned in a very good attacking performance against RSL. Here, the Danish international puts in a strong cross.

Once Kadrii got to the second half, he seemed to find his mojo. This cross is very similar to Davis’ in appearance, and it started to open up the RSL back line. Here, he has a ton of real estate to work with and nearly gives Minnesota a third goal.

There isn’t much more Kadrii could have done with this opportunity. Brent Kallman delivers a perfect pass up the field and Kadrii has room to operate. The winger creates a tough angle, but matches it with a place-perfect finish. However, Rimando shows his strong reflex ability, and Kadrii is denied.

However, this third clip starts to show why I think Kadrii could be upgraded.

Finally, a possible DP

Rather than cut inside to try and draw contact, or look to his right and see Venegas lurking, Kadrii dribbles into a corner where he’s met by Chris Wingert. Kevin Molino (who had a brilliant game himself) would’ve cut that ball in. Venegas would’ve come at it at a better angle, too.

Before the season, I got a sense that Minnesota United wasn’t going to bring in a Designated Player until they got most of the starting lineup established. The idea was to make the DP the final push to a playoff-caliber roster, rather than something to build around. Dare I say it, I’d use the Loons’ first DP spot on a left winger. Someone with as much creativity to rotate roles within a game with Molino and Venegas who can also take over a game himself.

It’s very likely that this player wouldn’t arrive until the summer, when a large number of foreign leagues have players out of contract. Still, if I’m looking for the next upgrade to the lineup (as well as a way to best incorporate a DP), it’s at left wing.

Here’s my projected squad for the big clash in Dallas.

Disagree? I’ll see you in the comments section.


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  • Jacob

    Good stuff. It doesn’t hurt that I mostly agree.

    I didn’t see the DP winger pitch coming though. I mean if a second Molino was available I would happily throw money at him, but I suspect that Kadrii and/or Ibarra are going to grow into their role more over the next few months. That first touch in the second Kadrii clip gives me goosebumps every time, and I’ve replayed it 5 times. But I would feel a lot better if Kadribarra had a breakout game this weekend. Basically, I buy the potential but I’m not sure I can sell it.

    Even if LW remains a question mark, I think CM remains the DP priority, followed by CB. Controlling the middle of the field, winning and keeping possession, and shutting things down on defense are the kinds of things that winning teams excel at. In context, our offense is already above average and our defense’s “historically bad” light is still blinking. A ball-dominant 6/8 next to Cronin could turn some of the team’s biggest weaknesses into strengths. Warner has been one of the team’s most consistent players thus far, but I see his position as a high-leverage one and would love to drop some heavy resources there this summer.

    • Jeff Rueter

      It’s the idea of a “second Molino” that I’m getting at, but probably even better. Kadrii has an incredible first-touch, but hasn’t seemed to bring the same creativity and incisive attacking ability as Molino, Venegas, and Ramirez.

      As far as CM, I think the upgrade for Warner is already on the roster. Once Schüller gets rolling and feels more comfortable in MLS, I’d slot him in alongside Cronin. He can be ball-dominant, and is already a TAM player. I want to give him a fair run out.

      • Jacob

        I would love for you to be right about Schuller and it’s a reasonable take. It just really is tough to gauge which players can transition to the MLS game. Most of our roster would seemingly qualify for “adapting to the league” deference in evaluating these early returns. Schuller might well settle in and go from marginal to above average, and so might Kadrii and Ibarra. And, frankly, anyone can suddenly click–look at Burch going from a career MLS journeyman to a starter on the best defensive unit in the league.

        I won’t pretend to have any insight into how you predict who’s going to blossom, and I guess that’s the appeal of the wait-and-see approach. In another month we’ll be pretty confident in who’s thriving and who isn’t. If Cronin and Schuller get some good things going and our CB pairing looks solid but neither of Ibarra or Kadrii has made the leap, I will be a lot more okay with hunting for a wing upgrade. But if we had to decide now, I see the wing as at most our 3rd highest priority.

  • mumbleblade

    As you’ve noted, the closest competition in this lineup is Davis vs. Burch. While Davis hasn’t been our weakest link on the back line this season (by far), he’s now the weakest link remaining. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start this week, but barring a standout performance, I bet Burch’s track record will convince Inchy to start him over Davis once he’s had a week or two to bed in.

  • mumbleblade

    Is it a given that the captain’s armband goes straight to Cronin? I have no doubt that it would be his had he started the season as a Loon – but does the manager make another switch, giving it to a player who just arrived?

    I admit to my ignorance about Heath’s past captaincy policy (and indeed the usual captaincy procedure in MLS). But if it’s similar to his policy about benching players, I don’t think Calvo has played himself out of the armband – he’s still the one of the first names on the team sheet. I’m more familiar with how these things go in England, where they are admittedly overly interested in the armband, which is almost always surrounded by tradition and controversy.

    • Jeff Rueter

      Totally fair. Before the season, Heath told me that he believes the captain has to be a guy the team can rally behind. On paper, Demidov was a perfect fit for the role. Speaks seven languages, has top-flight experience, plays up the spine. It just didn’t work out.

      I’d say Cronin should take over, but I look at what happened in Chicago. Even though the Fire brought in Dax McCarty, one of last year’s acquisitions still wears the armband. Some coaches are fine with passing it along, others want to keep it static. We’ll see with Cronin.

      • BJ

        Or as you noted, Kallman was the vocal one…..

  • duluth_loon

    I think I’d prefer our first DP to be deployed somewhere up the spine, and I’d probably target a player who would be a massive upgrade over Warner.
    Ibarra used to be a fringe national team player, I still have faith that he can get back to that level.

    • Jeff Rueter

      While I don’t disagree that the spine needs to be solid, I think those players are already there. I responded above that I think Schüller can be a perfect compliment to Cronin once he’s more acclimated. Still, I don’t know who I’m seeing as a weak link up the spine.

      Calvo and Kallman are perfect MLS centerbacks for 2017. Both are strong, very aware, and sneakily quick. Cronin and Schüller compliment each other’s games very well. Venegas has shown how out of position he was on the wing in Montreal. Ramirez has been the best American striker in MLS through five games.

      • duluth_loon

        I agree that Calvo and Kallman are perfect MLS centerbacks, and using DP resources at that position seems like a poor use of money to me (though Demidov & Taylor aren’t exactly confidence inspiring backups, and we’ve yet to see Greenspan in meaningful action).

        I hope you’re right about Schüller. I think you have the same faith in him improving as I do with Ibarra. I’d take a significant upgrade in either position.

        And let’s not forget that many teams are actively searching for not just 1 DP, but 3, since the only factor keeping a team from signing 3 big money DP players is stinginess from ownership. 🙂 So really, we should be targeting a DP upgrade at CM and LM, and we might as well improve our striker position too!

        • Jeff Rueter

          No doubt, but I think this club is only bringing in 1 DP this year. So I’m thinking which has the highest upside and greatest upgrade over the incumbent. To me, that’s LW.

  • Kevin Hill

    As the person watching the tape, have you seen Kadrii cut to the right at all? Seems like he has no right foot.

    Second clip, if he goes far post he should have thought about using his right foot. That may have been a goal with a right footed shot.

    Third clip he should have cut inside, but it is almost like you can tell he has no confidence in his right foot. A quick cut in (which he can cut quickly), and he produces a better opportunity. There appears to be a bit of space there. If he cuts he gets a shot or if the defender converges on him he can flick it on to Venegas.

    So, do you see him using his right foot ever? He has some incredible skill with his left foot and quite a rocket, too. I just wonder if his inability to play with his weak foot is limiting him. What about moving him to the opposite side, giving him an opportunity to cut in the middle?

    I favor Ibarra and his ability to move around the pitch more to fill the wing spot left available as Molino and Venegas roam. Kadrii looks more dangerous and has a great left foot but Ibarra looks a bit more like a utility play at this point.

    Am I wrong? I guess neither impresses me but I’d like to see their first DP be a spine type of player. Ibarra is the reason I started watching MNUFC 3 years ago, so I am fully disclosing my bias here, but also it also is hard to admit he does not look sharp (yet).

    PS This is my favorite FiftyFive.One piece, and have been enjoyed (enjoy may be a bad word the last few weeks) each week.

    • Jeff Rueter

      I don’t think you’re wrong. I have yet to see Kadrii try anything with his right foot. Meanwhile, I just have yet to see it from Ibarra this season. I’d love to be proven wrong, but the Loons can do better at LW.

    • Jacob

      They theoretically do make a good pair of options for the left wing. Maybe if Davis or Burch are able to get forward more Kadrii will be able to scoot in more and get some more natural shooting opportunities with his rocket left foot. I am also curious about trying him on the right with Molino in the middle. Wasn’t that what happened in New England though? I’m forgetting and am too lazy to look it up.

      • Kevin Hill

        Let’s not talk about New England…

        Kadrii can’t scoot in to get a shot off without a right foot. Venegas and Molino have been interchanging who goes middle so I don’t really care what it looks like on the lineup card.

        I guess the more I think on it the more I agree with Jeff on inproving LW. Unless one of them turn it around quickly I expect a summer move, even if not a DP.

        The next few weeks we will learn a lot about this team, and will be having completely different conversations.

    • David Sterling

      I agree with the spine comment for the DP. I don’t think either Warner or Ibson are starters (I think Ibson is better than Warner), and I’m not sold on Schuller at all. He hasn’t been a consistent player in a few years now, and transferred away from a ‘big’ club and then couldn’t even start at a small club. Worse, neither the Finnish or Swedish leagues are better than MLS (in my opinion), so I think he will end up being a bust.

    • MmattN

      It would be good to see what Ibarra can do where he isn’t constantly backtracking to provide defensive support. Plus he has never been afraid to cut back when playing on the left hand side.

  • MmattN

    I think that second clip of Ibson not clearing the ball up field is a bit harsh. If any criticism could be made is that he got in the way of Molino (I believe). He never really has time to look up and clear the ball. As for him throwing up his arms; yes I’ll make an excuse for him on this one, he actually appears to be caught in two acts, one arguing with the ref and the second going for the ball. Problem is the way his legs are planted all he can do is emphasis his disgust with the no call. Which I think was weak to begin with but hey he definitely sold his displeasure.

    I did not notice that long ball pass by Kallman but holy moly he has really been on target with those cross-field long passes. He had a similar one against Colorado that went to Ibarra. I don’t really remember him doing those from his NASL days.

    • BJ

      > Kallman

      We didn’t have the personal to fire those long cross field bombs in NASL. Plus he has clearly stepped up, a ton.

    • Jeremy Thornton

      >Kallman

      Just adding additional support to your comment. He is a lot of the reason I look forward to game day. His growth and development is exciting to watch each game. I appreciate an unfinished talent that gives his very all for each and every minute. He plays like he knows it could be his last game and doesn’t take his starting CB role for granted. That type of internal drive isn’t something you can teach. I’ll take that type of attitude in every player.

  • Alex Schieferdecker

    It’s refreshing to not have line-up decisions that boil down to “who will be less of a disaster?”

    I agree that Cronin will see the field this weekend, though I do wish we’d give guys a bit more time to settle in with the team. I think Burch/Davis is 50/50, and am hopeful that in the long run, JD steps up his game and keeps the spot. I’d love to see him reach 200 league appearances with the club, and I think he’s been fairly solid.

    Dallas have a deserved reputation, but they haven’t looked deadly to start the year, and they were utterly inept at finishing this week in Pachuca. This might be the right week to play them, we’ll see.

    I’d like to see more from Kadrii, He was refreshingly direct on Saturday, but also a turnover machine. I’m not sure he can beat people 1v1. I’m not sure I’m ready to go all in on a DP left wing. For me, the main need remains at the vacant #10 position.

    • Jeff Rueter

      I’ve actually liked the look of Venegas as a second striker/no. 10. I don’t know how vacant that position is with Venegas in tow. Venegas and Molino have shown some fantastic, fluid interplay and become tough to mark. I’m hoping that continues to develop.

      • Alex Schieferdecker

        I think Venegas has been great too. But we can’t just play this 4-2-2-2 all year. I’d like to be able to have a 4-2-3-1 *and* a 4-2-2-2 in our toolbox. But without a #10, we don’t have that.

  • Scherbs

    I agree with almost everything except for giving the Captains armband to Cronin. It should stay with Calvo for now. I am really routing for Ibarra, but i’ll admit both him and Kardrii have looked invisible so far. Although Kadrii was slightly improved against RSL, but how will he do once we play a decent team like Dallas?

  • David Sterling

    I think Ibson stays and Warner is removed. My reasoning is looking at the MLS chalkboards, their passing tells us that with Ibson, we get more positive play. In that his passes seem to go somewhere more often than Warner’s, and he appeared to have a significantly better pass rate as well (I calculated @82% to @61%).
    I also think JD will end up being replaced. He’ll start against Dallas, but he’ll be pulled, and Burch will take over from there. JD has been strong, but he’s gotten burned several times this season, and he’s our weakest link in this lineup. I’d venture to agree with you on the DP. If there would anywhere else to use it, it would be central midfield, unless (this is a big one) we could find a very good CB worth DP status. I think Kallman is not a starter. He’s held his ground, but he is better suited as a sub.

  • Offensive Loons Fan

    1. This is the exact lineup I would trot out, so you have the correct opinion.
    2. When I have a friend who bitches about their lot in life and does nothing to help it, I’m going to start saying that person is “Ibsoning.”
    3. What is more likely to happen if Molino were injured: play Kadrii out right and Ibarra at LW, play entirely different formation like 4222 and let the RB provide the width…other?

    • David Sterling

      I don’t think Kadrii’s right foot would allow him to play on the right. I think we change the whole formation.

    • duluth_loon

      I think your third point/question is exactly the reason the team needs to sign a DP at either winger or central midfielder ASAP. Our first choice 11, especially with Cronin, is a decent middle of the MLS pack lineup, not bad for an expansion side. But when we lose a key player to injury, the dropoff in potential team performance is too great as it currently stands. More depth is needed and I would love for Ibarra/Kadrii, Schuller/Warner, Venegas to be very capable depth rather than presumptive starters as soon as possible.

    • Jeff Rueter

      Hell, I’m going to steal the concept of “Ibsoning” too.

      To answer the third, I think the most likely result is back to the 4-3-3. Kadrii and Venegas on either side, Ramirez central, and three center midfielders to try and slow play.

      So yeah, not pretty if Molino goes down.

      • Alex Schieferdecker

        Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

        Play the 4-2-2-2, and just put Ibarra on the other side. But this is why we need a #10.

  • Alberto Valsecchi

    Finally some clear mistakes by FO are amended:
    stop to acquisition of players from North-East Europe and from Scandinavia where the leagues are well known as rather low quality leagues and so are their average players.

    Welcome in MNUFC to MLS experienced players like Cronin and Burch.
    They are 30 and 32 but they can be fit for the holes in our defensive-midfield line and in any case they give depth to the team.

    I think we still need depth in the centerbacks.
    Who will play when Calvo and/or Kallman get a cold or are suspended?

    • David Sterling

      I think Cronin has another three years, and Burch maybe two or three, but that’s really all we need at this point; and I fully agree on the CBs, but I would find a replacement for Kallman. I don’t think he’s a starter. He’s good enough, but not great.

      • Jeff Rueter

        “I don’t think he’s a starter” and “he’s good enough” aren’t really sympatico.

        • David Sterling

          He’s good enough for now, but shouldn’t be a starter. It’s a pretty basic argument.

          • Jeff Rueter

            Just ribbing.

            I’ve seen Brent grow every week this year. To me, I think he’s more than capable to be your starting CB. If that opens up the budget to spend DP money on a winger or a midfielder, even better.

            I’m also a sucker for young, cheap, domestic talent by nature, so…

          • David Sterling

            I may buy into the argument one day, but I haven’t seen him excel against formidable offense and has struggled in every game (though I agree he looked better against RSL). I see him as the weaker CB (excluding Demidov of course); and therefore, see him as the liability on the whole line at this point. He may prove me wrong, but why take the chance? We can score all day long, but if we can’t keep the ball out of the back of the net on the other end, it may not help in the end.

          • Jeremy Thornton

            He’s struggled every game? Wow, tough judge of play. I’m with Jeff on this one. Spend DP money forward of our back line. Kallman has not been an issue and in fact he has been the most stable. I would rather they continue to invest in his development by playing him game and game out. He’s proven to still have upside, let’s see how far he can go.

          • David Sterling

            Yes, he has struggled every game. He is our weakest link in what is to be expected our defense. He can be developed as he sits behind a better player. You do not risk success simply because you want to develop talent. That’s just amateur.

          • Jeremy Thornton

            Whoa, hostile. I think we are both Loons fans and thus on the same side. But you truly think Kallman has been a bigger liability than a Davis or Diemedov on the back line? I don’t think I can agree with that.

            Kallman hasnt prevented us from achieveing success. Using developing talent in actual games isn’t amateur, is professional. How else does academy talent in other organizations ever break into the starting 11? Certainly not every player that hits the pitch is complete and done developing.

          • BJ

            Kallman has been our best CB.

            We don’t have a better one on the team.

    • Kevin Hill

      Taylor is an okay backup CB, the problem is we played him out of position and as a starter. Demidov is a complete bust. I’ll eat crow if he ever turns it around.

      • Jacob

        I’ll happily eat some of that crow with you–he’s a bust and he’s welcome to prove us all wrong if he ever gets a chance.

        And Greenspan is in that rotation. He’s one of the last guys we’ll see on the field from this roster I guess, but I suspect he’ll be at least a serviceable backup. He hasn’t really had a chance to show what he can do completely yet.

  • Kevin Hill

    One thing I’d like to add: even in our best games we still give up 2 goals. I need to see a few shutouts happen before I am fully convinced Calvo and Kallman are the right CBs for this team or any MLS team. Both have impressed but both have had “yikes” moments as well. Until we are confident the defense has improved (and not just temporarily but with confidence knowing we have pieces for the long term) adding a LW is foolish.

    This is not to undermine Kallman’s meteoric rise. His rise to success is less heralded but no less impressive than the rise of Ramirez and Ibarra. He has played in 3 MLS games though, and Calvo only 5. So before we start saying our defense has improved by removing Demidov (which,duh, it has), let’s improve our 2 goals a game average when this CB pairing starts together.

    Kallman’s impressive rise last year and this year makes me giddy. He gets better every game. There is no reason to think he won’t be a solid CB for us for years. It is fun to think that in 2 years Kallman has gone from NASL bench to likely being protected from next year’s expansion draft. Kallman is 26 and Calvo is 25. We may have something special here for a few years! But let’s wait and see before addressing LW.

    • Jacob

      Oh wow, there’s an expansion draft next year. If it’s kept to 5 picks, I suspect we’ll be safe. And if it’s 10 picks, I’d probably prefer losing a player to losing Garber bucks that brought it down to 5 for our expansion draft anyway.

      • Kevin Hill

        I don’t think teams lost Garber bucks last year. Rather the teams opted for 5 picks in exchange for extra bonus money to the expansion teams.

        • Jacob

          Oh yeah. I knew play money was involved somehow, I was thinking that the bonus money came from the other teams in the league.

      • Kevin Hill

        Also, we get 11 protected spots, plus Danladi is GA so he is auto-protected. Martin may also be auto-protected as HG just don’t know if that status carries over with new team. Wish we could say Kallman is Home Grown and protect him automatically.

        Here is my protected roster after 5 games:

        Ramirez
        Venegas
        Molino
        Ibarra
        Schuller
        Cronin
        Calvo
        Kallman
        Thiesson
        Danladi (GA)
        Martin (HG)
        One of Davis/Burch (whichever does not emerge as starter)
        Summer transfer CB or LW

        Not sure if he is signed for next season, but Ibson could get poached. I could see Warner getting poached too (again).

        If Schuller continues to struggle we could leave him off as his contract would likely deter LA from taking him.

        • Kevin Hill

          Yes this is what I do when I stay home sick from work.

  • Matt

    Agree with keeping Davis in the lineup. Now is not the time to tinker with the back four. Let’s give those guys a little time to gel as a unit and show what they can do.

  • Ian Y

    I agree that DP slot could be used for LW if Ibarra doesn’t step and specifically Ibarra because Kadrii is a loan. Unless we choose to sign him permanently at the end of his loan (which may not be an option in his contract) he will be gone so Ibarra has to be the one to step up. Also I think a DP slot should definitely be used for GK as Alvbage had only poor performances so far and even though Shuttleworth had some great saves last game, he still doesn’t inspire much confidence. Finally I agree with upgrading our center midfield with a more creative #10 or #8. If it was me I would look in the Brazilian league, it wouldn’t be hard to find a player as talented and creative as Ibson, that also tries defensively. Realistically this would be either a younger player who doesn’t see Europe in his future or a player that is nearing the end of his career (like Ibson). Obviously the younger player would be preferable as he will either stay at the club performing at MLS level or he will improve beyond MLS level and get sold for a lot of money to Europe. The best part of going this route is that this type of player may not require a DP slot so that would still be open for additional reinforcements.

  • Stăsh

    Ibson completed 80% of his 95 passes (latter a team-high, former 2nd best), while Warner completed 68% of his 58. Ibson completed twice as many long passes at twice the rate, completed twice as many in the final third, had more clearances, tackles, etc. He drives everyone insane, but Ibson was one of the best players on the field while Warner was one of the least effective.

    The video comparison between the two is of no help. In the first, Ibson has a ball at his feet while facing the goal in fairly tight quarters. In the second, Warner chases a ball bouncing away from goal in space. Whatever that comparison reveals, its not anything about the players or the match.

    • Jeff Rueter

      Maybe so, but they played very different roles on the day. If Ibson attempted 37(!) more passes on the day, it shows that the team was trying to push the offense through him. There’s a chance that all 37 of those passes were low risk. The numbers themselves don’t tell the whole story.

      At this point, it comes down to preference. “He drives everyone insane” is reason enough to control a player’s time to make sure you get the most out of him. For me, that means he’s a sparkplug off the bench rather than a 90-minute player.

      • Stăsh

        I only checked the numbers because to my eye, Ibson was wildly more effective. I would have to go back to the tape, but I would wager that ~50% of the team’s chances that started in our half originated from an Ibson forward pass.

        I would prefer Ibson was the first central midfielder off the bench, but the starter may not be on the roster. Maybe Schuller can become the forward-thinking counterpart to Cronin, but thus far Ibson has had the best performances of any MNUFC central midfielder (faint praise as that may be). Either way, pairing Warner with Cronin makes no sense to me.

  • paul tuite

    excellent dissection.