To get everyone ready for tonight's match against Minnesota United, we spoke with E Pluribus Loonum's Nate Siems to get his take on MNUFC's improvement throughout the season, potential offseason moves, and the MVP of their inaugural season.
DSS: Minnesota United was headed for what appeared to be a historically bad season, but pulled out some quality results in the middle and end of the season. What will be your main takeaways from their inaugural campaign?
EPL: I think the biggest takeaway is something that I already knew going into the season and that is MNUFC has some very good pieces in place. The team was thrown together in about three months, at most. The start was WAY worse than I could have imagined, but we had a few players that were bright spots. Followed with some pretty good moves (the trades for Sam Cronin/Marc Burch and Ethan Finlay, signing Sam Nicholson) the season has actually exceeded my expectations.
DSS: What offseason moves will MNUFC have to make to fight for a playoff spot next season?
EPL: The starting backline appears to have been slightly solidified, but finding another starting CB along with depth will be a start. The most crucial signings would be in the midfield, though. The Loons have no true playmaker. Finding our own Miguel Almiron is my dream signing. The team has more wingers than they know what to do with, so finding a #10 to feed the ball into Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi is of the utmost importance. Another move that should be made would be to find someone who can be paired alongside Cronin. The biggest issue for the Loons has been transitioning from defense to offense through the midfield. Finding a good passing center midfielder would be a great addition. The team has no DP currently, so filling at least one or two of those slots with midfielders would help.
DSS: Who would you crown the MVP of the Loons’ season?
EPL: It's easy to point to Christian Ramirez. He's certainly deserving of the title. 13 goals and 3 assists is hard to argue with. But I think I will go with the player that lines up behind him, Kevin Molino. The Loons big TAM trade acquisition runs the offense. In the games where he disappears so to has the offense. I wouldn't say he is the playmaker that MNUFC needs because they could still use someone who pulls the strings, but this year Molino has stepped into that role at least temporarily. When Ramirez went down with an injury, Danladi stepped up. When Molino went through a rough patch of games, very few players were able to fill his role.
As a cop out, Bobby Shuttleworth, Francisco Calvo, and Cronin all are worthy nominees as well.