Minnesota United FC were expected to have a fairly eventful SuperDraft, with the fifth overall pick and two picks in the second round. But few could’ve anticipated just how busy it would turn out to be, as the Loons made three trades and ended up with a remarkable haul of five new players.
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The action started early for the Loons front office, as the hour before the draft began was interrupted repeatedly by visits from members of the Chicago Fire brain trust. Suspicions about a trade proved true, as both teams each called a five minute time-out to haggle over terms. In the end, Minnesota dealt the fifth pick to Chicago for the Fire’s fifteenth overall pick, $175,000 in allocation money, and goalkeeper Matt Lampson. The 28 year-old Lampson started a number of games with the Fire in 2017 and will push Bobby Shuttleworth for the starting role in Minnesota with the younger Alex Kapp presumably as the third choice.
United were not totally willing to give up an early pick, however, and they swiftly returned back into the fray, dealing $150,000 in allocation money to the Montreal Impact for the seventh pick. With that selection, the club selected Mason Toye, a Generation Adidas player (that means he’s already signed, and doesn’t count against the cap) from Indiana University. The forward was one of the youngest players in the draft, but impressed Head Coach (and former striker) Adrian Heath. “He’s another one we think has a lot of tools, a lot of upside,” he said. “Is he the finished article? No, he’s not. What I do know is, if we can get him to make runs at the right time, pull off defenders, then he’s got the size and the feet—he’s got lovely feet—to score goals.”
“I know that they have a great fanbase,” said Toye. “I can’t wait to get out there and start working and scoring goals.”
Minnesota’s next selection came with their newly acquired fifteenth pick. The Loons used it on Wyatt Omsberg, a 22 year-old central defender out of Dartmouth College. The tall Mainer was one of the breakout stars of the combine, testing exceptionally well in the speed and agility tests. He also passed the eye test in the scrimmages, and many mock drafts had him as a top ten selection. “When you look at his size—he’s a huge kid,” said Heath, “and when you look at his times in agility and the sprinting, he’s near the top. Coupled with the fact that he’s a smart kid—I mean he went to Dartmouth—we were pleased he was there for us.”
After their pick of Omsberg, the Minnesota front office all remained in deep discussion at their table, suggesting more moves were afoot. So it proved. The Loons shipped another $50,000 in allocation money (if you’re keeping track at home, that’s a net expenditure of -$25,000 on the day) to Toronto FC for the first round’s final pick. With that twenty-third overall selection, the team grabbed Carter Manley, a right-back out of Duke University. Manley had previously trained with Minnesota last summer, and had a great combine. “We liked what he did in training,” Heath said. “When you get these kids in training, sometimes it’s a little bit daunting. He’s a bit quiet and unassuming, but everything we asked of him, every time we asked him a question, he came up with the answers.”
The last pick of the day for United came with the forty-first pick. The Loons used it on midfielder Xavier Gomez of the University of Nebraska Omaha. Minnesota have scrimmaged against UNO repeatedly over the years, and have a good familiarity with Gomez. The Chicagoan was a late combine invite, and so few eyes were on him. But Minnesota knew enough to take him with their final selection.
A few other players with Minnesota connections were selected. Brandon Bye, a versatile athlete who played in the attack for Western Michigan, but will likely be a fullback in MLS, was nabbed by the New England Revolution with the eighth overall pick. Bye was a fan favorite last summer when he played with Minneapolis City SC in the NPSL North, while interning with Kellogg’s. Defender Lucas Stauffer and midfielder Ricky Lopez-Espin, both of Creighton University were selected 26th and 33rd overall. Both are products the Shattuck St. Mary’s academy in Faribault, MN.
For the players selected or traded today, their whirlwind couple of days only continues. For Minnesota’s selections, preseason camp will start next week, with a trip to Orlando, Florida. The first scrimmage opportunity will come against FIU University on February 3rd. While Lampson and Toye already have contracts with the league, Omsberg, Manley, and Gomez will be hoping to impress enough to earn their first pro contracts.
But if the intensity of Minnesota United FC’s moves on draft day were any indication, the club rates these players highly. Hopefully fans will get to see what they can do.