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
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
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
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
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.
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)
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