Courtesy of Dan Mick

The Angle

Big Question: Why Sign Forward Brandon Allen If He’s Not Getting Playing Time?

by on 16 August 2017

The Big Question is a new series here at FiftyFive.One to look at a topic or idea within Minnesota soccer with a critical eye and to promote discussion and debate. We want to hear from you with your thoughts on today’s question:

“Why sign forward Brandon Allen if he’s not getting playing time?”

Brandon Allen was an interesting signing during the summer transfer window for Minnesota United FC. A loan with the option to buy at the end of the season, Allen had not seen much first team action with New York Red Bulls, spending most of his time with the Red Bulls’ reserve side in the USL. So why sign him?

Brandon Allen

Age 23 Years
Nationality U.S.A.
Position Forward
MLS Appearances (Minutes) 1 (7), 2016
USL Appearances (Minutes) 47 (3,784), 2016-17
Goals Scored (USL) 30

Brandon Allen is a left-footed attacker from New Jersey who attended Georgetown for college. He signed a homegrown contract with New York Red Bulls ahead of the 2016 season, and has spent most of his professional career playing with the New York Red Bulls II in the USL.

What does Brandon Allen bring to Minnesota United FC?

Besides not requiring an international spot, Brandon Allen has been used primarily as a squad player for Minnesota United FC. Given the opportunity to play Brandon Allen in the game against the Sounders a week ago, head coach Adrian Heath offered a convoluted reason for not playing him. Heath gave the following explanation to the Star Tribune’s Meg Ryan:

“If that game had been 2-1, chances are Brandon Allen would have been on the field with us and had an opportunity to try and get a goal because the one thing he’s shown since he’s been with us, he’s really good in and around the box.”

Above, Heath claims MNUFC sees Brandon Allen as a player with great potential, but Allen has yet to find any time on the pitch, even with Christian Ramirez injured. An interesting question is if Allen will even travel with the team to Seattle this weekend.

Identifying developing talent in lower divisions is a great way for teams on a budget — like Minnesota — to find players that can contribute at a higher level. But is Brandon Allen the next player to make that jump successfully?

So what do you think? Is Brandon Allen a long term contributor to the team, or is he really just a short term fix for a roster with not enough healthy bodies to even run a 11 vs. 11 scrimmage?

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  • Wes

    From what I know about Allen comes from Seeing Red’s Mark Fishkin. He described Allen as a poacher. He gets a lot of garbage goals. That’s a nice feature to have and I wonder how that fits into our 4-2-3-1 set up? Can we start using Danladi next to Christian and then Allen comes in and out for Danladi?

    • Bill Stenross

      Danladi brings some much needed speed. I think Christian already is a quality poacher, along with having a wider skillset. Is being a poacher enough of a skillset for an MLS attacking player.

      • Dave Laidig

        Ask Wondo

  • Joe Leyba

    Maybe he was signed as a sacrifice to the field turf gods?

    • Wes

      Burch wasn’t enough to slake their thirst?

      • Jim Oliver

        Their thirst is unquenchable, the void in their gut bottomless.

  • Dave Laidig

    I would like to think that the team is just being proactive, adding a player that they think will contribute some minutes in 1-2 years. But with the roster actions not matching up with the team’s explanations, it’s tough to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

  • Tacoboi

    He looked good in the friendly, one of the few players that seemed to care. Shame that he can’t get more playing time. Play him behind Christian to make defenders do a double take.

  • Troy Kadlec

    If you have a tight game and need attacking firepower, Allen will sub in. If Danladi and Ramirez are dinged, Allen will play. If one is dinged, it will depend on the gameplan whether you pull in Allen. The guy has been eligible for 4 MLS games since he got here? If he’s not hands down better than what Danladi or Ramirez bring, you aren’t going to use him as anything other than a sub spark at the end of a match.
    I would have liked to see him up top with Danladi when Ramirez was out, but we got murdered on the counter and having another player on the wrong side of a counter would have been ugly. I can’t fault Inchy for not wanting another 5-6 goal loss on this year’s record.

  • Kyle Butler

    Quite frankly, there is too much distance between Inchy and the front office. Too often it feels like the team makes moves that they believe to be logical, but Inchy doesn’t care to take into account. I liked the Allen signing because I thought he would get some solid chances at the end of games and at worst would be a cheap option as a third striker with a lot of potential based on his USL strike rate.

  • mumbleblade

    With his poacher tendencies, I think Allen is a like-for-like insurance policy for Ramirez. As much as I would like to see Allen get minutes as the season winds down, if Christian is healthy, he has to start. If it’s between Allen and Danladi, I’d also take the youth and speed of Danladi up top (and it appears Inchy would agree). So maybe we’ll only see Allen if (god forbid) Ramirez gets injured or has a scoring drought (and if Danladi proves ineffective as a lone striker).

    He may also serve as a motivational tool, providing competition for Ramirez. I think Ramirez will need some motivation to stay sharp, especially if his USMNT prospects continue to fade. Lord knows Inchy is all about motivation/effort, or at least perceived effort (see: Ibarra, Miguel).

    I really hope Allen (or another player like him) remains on the roster beyond this season, for the aforementioned reasons. Plus, we just need depth at striker (and everywhere else except the wings).

  • Matt

    I’ve seen him in pre-game warmups only, and was not impressed. Nothing to judge on, I know – but just wonder if he isn’t giving the effort in practice/impressing Heath enough to get playing time.

  • David Sterling

    I’m going to say he is an insurance policy on the remainder of the season to fill the squad. It would seem that the office may not necessarily take Heath’s input in their decisions. He’s never been too keen on Ibarra, they’ve basically signed all wingers, and Allen doesn’t get used when you’d expect it.
    In the system we’re playing he can’t be anymore useful than a fill-in, so unless Heath plans on changing, I don’t see Allen getting many minutes.

  • Vinyl Haircut

    I totally agree with others that Christian needs to start every game he’s healthy. But our 2017 record is virtually irrelevant. What’s important is to set ourselves up for future years, and to do that the staff needs a thorough analysis of every player. Practice is never the same as real game action, and the Seattle game was a perfect opportunity. I have no problem giving Danladi the start up top. But in the 68th minute, down 2, we subbed in *Venegas*. That’s a worthless action, in my opinion. He’s shown almost nothing, and we have a good sample of game action with which to evaluate him already. Rather, had we subbed in Allen, we could have instead played with two strikers and put Molino outside (where he’s better suited anyway). Or we could have dropped Danladi into the #10 role and kept the formation largely the same. Regardless, the staff would have had better data upon which to evaluate players for next year — especially Allen, for whom I believe we have an option to buy.

    I like Heath, but the reason he gave for not doing this — that the score wasn’t 2-1 — is just ridiculous. The score at the time of the Venegas substitution was 2-0. The result was still in the balance. But so what? Even if the game had been out of reach, doesn’t that make it even easier to sub in Allen? We aren’t making the playoffs this year regardless, so this is the time to see exactly what we’ve got, who we can build with, and who must be jettisoned.