The off-season may feel long for fans, but for the Minnesota United staff it is a short turn-around to start making wholesale changes to the squad. Colombia may be one of the sources for some new signings as sporting director Manny Lagos and assistant coach Mark Watson were spotted at a match in Colombia last night.
Minnesota United finished the season with 28 players under contract (excluding loans), but the staff has targeted about 14-15 players in whom they feel they have a good base going forward. While this does not indicate half the roster will be jettisoned, it does give a sense of how much work the technical staff feels it has to do before 2018.
Assistant coach Ian Fuller traveled last week to scout the NCAA tournament. The Loons have the fifth pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
Lagos and Watson, meanwhile, were in attendance to watch the Colombian teams La Equidad and Deportes Tolima play to a 0-1 match that was delayed by rain. The team does not want to divulge any further details on the scouting trip.
Colombian journalist Pablo Ríos González captured the two Loons as they watched the match.
Anoche, en el partido entre La Equidad y Tolima, en el estadio de Techo, estuvieron presentes veedores del Minnesota United (@MNUFC), de la MLS. pic.twitter.com/Gy4hy9UhUI
— Pablo Ríos González (@riosgonzalezp) November 20, 2017
The match itself was delayed over an hour by rain and decided by a penalty, scored by Ángelo Rodríguez.
The Minnesota staff are currently on one of many scouting trips planned for the off-season, so a chance photograph at one specific match (between the fifth and sixth-place Colombian teams) should not be over-scrutinized.
That said, let’s over-scrutinize. Here are a few potential targets who may have been on Lagos and Watson’s checklist
Santiago Montoya, Attacking Midfielder (central and left), 26
Montoya is on loan at Tolima from the Brazilian club Vasco da Gama. The playmaker has been with Vasco da Gama since 2013, but never made much of an impact on the first team. Since joining Tolima in 2016, however, Montoya has played a central role to the team’s success, scoring six goals this season.
Joel Silva, GK, 28
The Paraguayan Silva has been a mainstay in goal for Tolima for three seasons running, but he, too, is on loan at the club (the loan is only relevance in terms of Minnesota possibly being able to nab the player up from the parent club on the cheap or free).
The Loons are looking to sign a keeper who can either push for time with Shuttleworth or take over in goal and Silva may be a good candidate for the job.
Jean Carlos Blanco, F, 25
The young striker, Blanco, has featured in almost all of La Equidad’s matches since arriving at the club in 2015. In that time, he has scored 21 goals. However, he plays second fiddle to the 33 year old to Carmelo Valencia, which doesn’t make me rate the chances of him being a very serious target highly.
Andrés Correa, LB, 23
When Correa signed for the Seattle Sounders in 2015, he was only 21 years old. The young left back never made any first team appearances before being released a year later. Since then, however, Correa has been a regular for Boyacá Chicó and now La Equidad, playing over 6000 minutes in those two years.
Correa may have earned himself a second look at MLS. Certainly, those connections (and his agency’s representation in the US) make it very likely that Correa was at least on a list of players for Lagos and Watson to evaluate.
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