The Angle

FiftyFive.One Best of 2017: Minnesota United FC Player of the Year

by on 17 January 2018

Now that 2017 has come to a close, FiftyFive.One is honoring the best Minnesota soccer players. This week, we’ll release the shortlist of nominees across six categories. Readers can vote for their favorites with the winners announced next week.

2017 was full of ups and downs for Minnesota United FC, but on an individual level, there were a number of stand-out performances.


Bobby Shuttleworth, GK

Courtesy of Daniel Mick

Bobby Shuttleworth came to Minnesota needing a change of environment and at first seemed to be here to push John Alvbåge for the number one spot in goal. After a disastrous start and an injury to the Swede in the second match of the season, Shuttleworth was part of settling a shaky defense. Despite taking a number of blows to the face, Shuttleworth made save after save, finishing only one save off the top of the charts with 116 to his name.

Christian Ramirez, FW

Christian Ramirez squares up for the first goal in the club’s MLS history. Image credit to Will Bramlett, special to FiftyFive.One.

A longtime favorite for Minnesota soccer fans, “Superman” had a break-out year in front of the rest of the American soccer audience. Despite starting the first MLS match on the bench, Ramirez came on in his MLS debut against the Portland Timbers and scored the Loons’ first MLS goal. Ramirez went on to score 14 goals from open play, the most of any American in Major League Soccer and would eventually earn his first USMNT callup.

Francisco Calvo, CB

Calvo Goal Vancouver

Francisco Calvo scores Minnesota’s first goal in their 2-2 draw with the Whitecaps. Photo credit: Daniel Mick.

Francisco Calvo may be the brightest ascending star for the Loons. The Costa Rican defender joined Minnesota United from Saprissa and will be the Loons’ most prominent face at the 2018 World Cup. On the pitch for Minnesota in 2017, he took on the captaincy and showed attractive flair for a center back.

Kevin Molino, AM

Photo courtesy of Daniel Mick

Kevin Molino’s relatively big money transfer from Orlando City at the beginning of 2017 raised a number of eyebrows. In Orlando, Molino had developed a reputation for creativity, but with his $650,000 cost in allocation money meant that he would now be expected to step up and become the prominent playmaker for his team. With seven goals and nine assists, he was undoubtedly Minnesota’s most dangerous creative threat on the pitch.

Ibson, CM

Photo courtesy of Daniel Mick

Is there a player more divisive than Ibson on the Minnesota United team, a player who can make you swoon one second and tear out your hair the next? The Brazilian midfielder played an enormous role for the Loons all over the pitch. Ibson made 2247 passes last season, almost 300 more than the next Minnesota player, Jérôme Thiesson (Ibson played 300 fewer minutes than Thiesson). The midfielder also made the most tackles (83) and third most interceptions (43) on the team. To contextualize that number of tackles, Thiesson was the only other player with more than 40 tackles (if you want more statistics, you should buy The Complete Darkness 2017)


2017 Minnesota United FC Player of the Year


See all of FiftyFive.One Best of 2017 Player of the Year categories

Minnesotan Men’s U-23 Player of the Year

Minnesotan Men’s Player of the Year

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  • mumbleblade

    I think Shuttleworth is the clear choice for player of the year. Seems weird to say it with the worst-ever defense in MLS, but it could have been so much worse without Bobby between the sticks. He singlehandedly (pun emphatically intended) kept United in multiple games, including penalty saves in road wins, to drag Minnesota to a nearly respectable 10-win expansion year despite a non-existent midfield and an unreliable back line.

    If a tandem could be chosen as POTY, our strikers should win, but neither should win on their own. Ramirez scored our first MLS goal and his goals helped United scrape together their first decent results. But he was somewhat replaceable. Danladi hit a stride in Christian’s absence, and might have matched his goal tally had he been the starter all season.

    Calvo was the best defender in the worst ever defense, and captain of a team bereft of leadership. Key player, but not player of the year. Might be a different story if his nervy moments had been balanced by a couple more set-piece goals, but he never translated that skill from Los Ticos to the Loons.

    Molino is arguably the best player on the roster and likely would be POTY he had played in his best position the whole time. But he lost the ball far too often and didn’t contribute enough goals from open play – two damning indictments of a supposed a #10 (cc: Alex Schieferdecker). He contributed to the Loons’ defensive incompetence by rarely and lazily tracking back when he or a teammate lost the ball.

    Ibson was always either the best or worst player on the field. Without him, United probably would have had fewer wins and fewer losses. Preventing draws is not a ringing endorsement for POTY, unless devil-may-care win-or-lose excitement is your criteria for selection.

    • Kyle Eliason

      Shuttleworth finished with the highest season average in our [Community Match Ratings]( I don’t think it’s weird to say, at all.

    • Kyle Eliason

      Shuttleworth had the highest season-average in our community match ratings. I don’t think it is weird to say at all.