Loon Ratings Now Open for Carolina Railhawks Home (7-19)

Fill out your Loon Ratings for the 1-0 Carolina Home win! Voting Closes Saturday at Noon Central!

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Loon Rating Results for Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

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Someone described this game as the worst he had ever seen a team win 3-0, which was definitely reflected in the ratings.  I was busy hanging out with my one day old son, who I am taking to call the “Tiger Woods of Soccer”, so I wasn’t too focused on the game.  I’ll have to take the fans word on this one.

Player of the Match

Ibarra had a great game, with an amazing goal, and was given free rein to find space all over the field.  Definitely a deserved Player of the Match.

Defender/Goalkeeper of the Match

Mitch Hildebrandt worked hard in the back, sometimes harder than he needed, to keep the clean sheet and was rated highly by the fans for that.  Does Minnesota have a goalkeeper controversy?

Question: Where Will Minnesota Finish in the Fall?

Most people said 1st place for the Fall finish.  The lowest anyone said was 3rd.  That’s some confidence in you from the fans, Minnesota United!

Detailed Stats below!

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“Tactical” Analysis: Minnesota 3-0 Away Win Over Ft. Lauderdale

With a 2 day old, my stamina for writing is limited, so I’m not going to get too into the tactical considerations of the game.  Expect for a while shorter posts as life readjusts to having a new member of our family.  In order to maintain my sanity, these are going to be quick hits.

Back to the Old 4-2-3-1

A very familiar formation was trotted out by Minnesota, with the team lining up in their old 4-2-3-1, with Watson and Mendes out wide.  Manny Lagos must not have liked the formations he played in the Open Cup or the July 4th Friendly. 

Davis was great coming up

Attacking fullbacks are exciting.  They push forward, creating match-up problems for the defense.  Davis had a great game attacking up the left hand side.

Miguel Ibarra had a great second half

Yep.  great half.

New subs

Omar Daley is still getting sub minutes, and Polak was a new sub for us up front, although he didn’t really bring much for the offense.  Finally, Manny made a very defensive substitution, bringing in Brian Kallman for Ibarra.  In the spring, all the subs were very one for one substitution, with little change for the formation of the team.  Brian Kallman was sent in to help keep the 3-0 victory intact.

Next Games

Minnesota has a game against the Carolina Railhawks this Thursday, which should be a great game, with the Railhawks looking to rebound from a loss to Indy Eleven.  Then on Saturday, there is a Friendly against Swansea City. Should be a great game!  Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it out to each game!    

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Loon Rating Results for Mexico U-21 (July 4th Friendly)

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It’s been a long mid-season break, but July 4th saw the Minnesota United FC play the Mexico U-21 National Team in a friendly. At times it was less than friendly, what with 3 red cards given for a confrontation in the second half.   The team played with some new tactics and gave us a peek at what Manny Lagos might try once the season kicks off again this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.

Player of the Match

Miguel Ibarra picked up another player of the match, with his high work rate and his new position as a forward.  My favorite highlight of the night was his rainbow pass to Ramirez.  With him pushing forward allows more room for other midfielders to find space in the midfield.  The last two games have seen Lagos experimenting a lot with positions and formations.  Will he go back to the 4-2-3-1 of the Spring Season or continue with the experimentation?

Defender of the Match

Kevin Venegas had a great game, although in one sense to call him a defender is a misnomer, as he spent much of the game pushing far forward along the sideline.  If Minnesota had heat maps for their players the darkest portion for Venegas would be right along the halfline.  The new formation of 4-3-3 gives a lot of space for Venegas to make overlapping runs.  

Sub of the Match

Hildebrandt was rated really highly by the fans this week, but we still saw his struggles with goal kicks and passing.  If he could improve on this area of his game, he would definitely find himself starting somewhere in NASL, if not here in Minnesota.

This week

Ft. Lauderdale away this Saturday.  Game time is 6:30 local time. 

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Tactical Analysis: Minnesota vs. Mexico U-21, July 4

A friendly is a time for experimentation, which made the line-up that was trotted out for the first half both surprising and expected.  Expected, as the formation was different from anything we’ve seen from Minnesota this season.  Surprising in that the starting eleven is likely to be similar next weekend when league play starts up again.

Minnesota came out in a 4-3-3 with a lot of fluid movement between the midfielders and the forwards.  Wes Burdine thought it looked like a diamond at times, which a 4-3-3 can slip into quickly if the center forward falls back into the midfield.

Starting Line-up for Minnesota vs. Mexico U-21

Formation (7-4 v Mexico U-21)

Looking at the formation, the 3 midfielders tended towards the center of the field, which gave a lot of room for Davis and Venegas to push way up the field, both on offense and defense.  When the fullbacks pushed forward, one of the midfielders, usually Vicentini, would slip back between the centerbacks, creating a 3 centerback look.

In some ways, this looked like some of the 3 back formations that have been popular at the World Cup this year for Chile and the Netherlands.  

An Evolution

This formation is an evolution of the 4-2-3-1 that Minnesota had been playing, as the fullbacks in that formation also pushed forward.  In the 4-2-3-1, there were 2 midfielders wide in the formation.  In the 4-3-3, the 3 midfielders were in the middle of the field, meaning that the fullbacks were required to provide the width along the sideline.

The 4-3-3 also allows the 11 best players to find their best place on the field.  The game against Kansas City showed that Jordan is better coming out of the back than playing up in the midfield.  Also, Watson in the middle allows him to play to his strength of distributing and passing in the attack.  In addition, Venegas has looked fantastic in his overlapping runs, and with 3 center midfielders, there is always someone to slip back into the back line to cover a run.  

Overlapping runs and Total football

This game continued Minnesota’s growth in fluid play and interchanging play.  The three forwards were given the freedom to roam around the field, making diagonal runs through each other’s zones.  By being able to switch sides and find space where it exists in the attacking third, Minnesota will create a lot of opportunities in the Fall Season.

The Midfielders were also given a lot of freedom to move around the field, with both Jordan and Pitchkolan moving from sideline to sideline to provide support and spring the attack.

The Second Half

It’s tough to get much out of the second half when substitutes were brought on because the team went down to 9 men fairly early in the half.  It was great to see the team still push forward and have chances on goal even a man down, including an amazing rainbow pass from Ibarra to Ramirez near death.

For the future

Will we see the 4-3-3 again this Fall?  It seems likely because it allows Jordan, Pitchkolan and Vicentini all to play in their favored positions.  With the 4-2-3-1, Lagos didn’t have room for all three.  The 4-3-3 also pushed Ibarra farther forward, allowing him to be involved in more attacks, while pushing Watson inside, which seemed more natural for him than the wing.  

Final Thoughts

Don’t expect Minnesota to be as dominating this Fall as they were in the Spring, but expect them to be competitive in every game.  They might experiment a bit, but Lagos should be able to keep the team engaged and ready.

 

 

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Why you should be a Minnesota United FC Fan

This is for all those people who watched the World Cup and had a blast cheering on the players in the red white and blue with thousands of your closest friends in bars and viewing parties throughout the twin cities. Now that the USMNT were unfortunately knocked out of the World Cup, you might be thinking, is there any way I can still watch some soccer I’ll care about now that this is over?

Start watching (and supporting) local soccer

Sure, you could listen to those people who say that they can only watch European soccer, because the “quality” is so low in the US. But it’s not like you were watching the USMNT team because they were the best team in the World Cup, you were watching them because they are your team.

So it goes for local soccer.  So why not start following your local soccer team?

Reasons why you should support your local soccer team, Minnesota United FC

1. It’s local.

There’s nothing quite like seeing live soccer, particularly when you have thousands of fans around you cheering them on with you. Live, you really start to appreciate the ebb and flow of the game, as one team, then the other begins to take control of the game. Finally, when the ball finds the back of the opponent’s net, the release of all that pent up energy whips the crowd into a frenzy.

Also, unlike any other major American sport, the games only last around 2 hours, and there’s no overtime. So you know exactly what you are getting into.  Plus, there’s no commercial breaks that you have to sit through. The game is still designed to entertain the live spectator, not the TV broadcasters.

2. You’ll actually get a chance to meet the players.

If you are a fan of other professional sports teams in Minnesota, you’ll be lucky to meet a player or two a season.  With Minnesota United FC, you’ll have to try hard to avoid meeting players.

At viewing parties at Brits team players have been known to show up and chat it up with the fans. Players become fan favorites because they are geniunely good people, who you’ll have a chance to know. In addition, there are countless other opportunities to see the players, as Minnesota is really good about getting players out in the community and interacting with the fans. In addition, the team will come and sign autographs and shake hands after each home game.

3. The supporters are amazing.

My wife went to Michigan State, and she talks fondly about her days going to MSU football games and standing in the student section. Or at least she did, until we started standing with the Dark Clouds. The songs, chants and cheers are a blast to sing. Think of it as a cross between a flashmob, a punk rock concert and a college homecoming game.

Plus, there’s always a tailgate before the game and most are really friendly and willing to talk, particularly about the team.

4. Minnesota United FC are actually good

The team almost went bust two years ago, but Bill McGuire purchased the team, and immediately started investing in the team. While the team struggled last year, this year they’ve looked great.

In fact they won the Spring Championship, so they are guaranteed a place in the playoffs at the end of the season.  Sure, you’ll be jumping on the bandwagon of a winning team, but trust me, none of the fans care.

Alright, I’m hooked, what should I know before I come out to my first game?

There’s a lot to know about Minnesota United FC, the Dark Clouds and soccer in Minnesota in general. I’m going to avoid talking about the rules of soccer, because there are a number of great introductions to soccer out there to read.

Who are the players I should pay attention to (and can you relate them to USMNT team players)?

On the offensive end, watch Cristian Ramirez, he leads the league in goals. He’s our Clint Dempsey or Jozi Altidore, the man the farthest forward who leads the attack.

Miguel Ibarra is one of the best players we have, and plays a bit like a more attack minded Michael Bradley, plays in the center of our midfield.

Pitchkolan is our captain, and typically plays like Beckerman as our defensive mid. Venegas takes most of our free kicks and plays out wide in the right fullback position, but you’ll catch him pushing forward a lot, much like Yedlin and Johnson did for the USMNT.

While Matt Van Okel is not Tim Howard, he does have the greatest facial hair in American Sports.

Wait, Minnesota United FC? I thought the local team was [insert name here].

There’s been a number of soccer teams in Minnesota since the 70’s. Minnesota Kicks and then Minnesota Strikers played in the original NASL in the 70’s and 80’s. In the 90’s, the Minnesota Thunder became the local pro team. That team folded in 2009, and NSC Minnesota Stars took their place. That team was then owned by the league, and then by Bill McGuire, who changed the name to the current name.

Who are the Loons?

The Loons is the nickname of Minnesota United FC. Kind of like how the Minnesota baseball team is the Twins, but for many soccer teams, the nickname isn’t part of the official name of the team.

Who are the Dark Clouds?

The Dark Clouds are the inventive, strange and passionate supporters group of Minnesota United FC. They started out supporting the Minnesota Thunder, which is where the Dark Clouds name comes from.

Why do people keep referring to Nessie?

Minnesota plays at the NSC up in Blaine. Now, say NSC as if it was a word. Get it?

Where can I find out more about the club?

Besides mnunitedfc.com and following them on facebook, twitter and instagram, you can read news about the team here at The Relegated, at reddit.com/r/minnesotaunited where there is a lively and engaged group who talks about the team, at soccercentric at the Star Tribune or on the Dunord Podcast.

You can watch home games up in Blaine or on Channel 45 and away games on NASL live.

Hope to see you there!

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Loon Ratings Results for Minnesota vs. SKC USOC (6/18)

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What a tough loss.  Minnesota lost a game they could have won, but those of us who watched it could be very proud of how the Loons performed.

Player of the Match

Mitch Hildebrandt was the clear player of the match.  He kept the team in the game when they went down to 10 men and Sporting KC smelled blood in the water.  A great game by him.

Defender of the Match

Venegas got a lot of love coming back from his broken jaw and performing well both in his overlapping runs and in his defensive acumen.  It’ll be great to see Minnesota back to near full strength (no Campos) this fall.

Sub of the Match

Jamie Watson got the nod for Sub of the Match, but I have to disagree.  He was directly responsible for the second goal.  Granted, he was put into a position at left back that isn’t his usual spot, but still, he probably wasn’t the best sub for the game.

Was it a red card?

The completely impartial fans of Minnesota United FC said no, it should have received a yellow.

Next Match

The next match for Minnesota United is July 4th.  Have you seen the scarves the Dark Clouds will have for the match?

Check out the detailed numbers below!

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