Three things, #MINvATX – Day 9, 2021
- Franco Fragapane and Adrien Hunou both have incredible vision and a sense of the goalscorer for space. And so, although still not complete, with Robin Lod absent until the match of July 3 against San José earthquakes, Minnesota United now has an interesting attack. The game will go through more than one player and the attack will take more than one form (changing with each game). As Tyler Miller noted after Wednesday’s game, “we obviously have a dangerous flank and serve that we can put into the box, but when you can combine that with the ability to play in tight spaces, to play Quick combinations around the box, that just adds another dangerous attack for us… ”Yes, Emanuel Reynoso will still be the 10, but Fragapane, Hunou and Lod are proving to be game makers and creative scorers in their own right. And instead of being either a counter-attacking team, or playing with inverted wings, or playing for speed overhead, or sending countless crosses unanswered, this team seems capable of doing it all. this in the same game. It remains to be seen if they can be trained in a better version of what their individual talents allow, but these are exciting times to be a Loons fan.
2. Finally, two years after completing a three-year plan, it feels like a real team, like the list has finally come together. It’s possible to imagine how these Loons will play and what a favorite XI could be. Miller appears to have secured the starting position, although Dayne St. Clair remains a quality starting goalie. Even without Ike Opara, the backline of Romain Métanire, Michael Boxal, Bakaye Dibassy and Chase Gasper is solid, with some very good moments. And this offense, well, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. With Lod fitting in easily to the right on his return, despite Hansen’s very good play, the only question will be in midfield: Wil Trapp has been surprisingly good as a single deep six, and both Hassani Dotsons and Jacori Hayes had some exceptional matches in Greguš’s absence. It could be a question of knowing if Greguš automatically obtains his starting place on his return. But maybe more to the point, and beyond all that, there’s no hire or outsourced talent in this starting XI, and everyone seems to be playing in position. It is finally and fully a team.
3. There has been a lot of chest beating in defense of MLS after Gonzalo Higuian’s recent comments (“I thought I would come here and play with a cigarette in my mouth and, instead, it’s hard”). But what we saw on Wednesday night, and to some extent last weekend against FC Dallasis that there is a difference between being a tough league and being a good league. (Which are both quite different being a fun league.) MLS is definitely a tough league with lots of travel and a tough summer season and lots of forced parity. Austin FC was, for the entire game, exhausted after the opener with eight games on the road. But even though it’s a tough league, it’s not a particularly good league for it, a reality that will only get worse with continued expansion and growth. There are, of course, a few teams that have both the technical and front office staff and the organizational structure to create a definable style and identity and who have the roster and players to play in that style and identity; in other words, a few clubs with good players who are trained in a great team. And there are a handful of teams that are really, really bad. But there’s also a whole bunch of middle teams that only have one or the other. At the moment, Austin FC seems to have the first but not the last, while MNUFC seems to have the last but not yet the first.