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Loons’ Adrian Heath considering more lineup changes going into LAFC match

Minnesota United will play its ninth different starting lineup in the season’s ninth game on Sunday

MLS: Chicago Fire at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United midfielder Kervin Arriaga (33) leads the celebration with forward Abu Danladi (18) defender Bakaye Dibassy (12) and forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane (21) after scoring against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports
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Minnesota United will play its ninth different starting lineup in the season’s ninth game on Sunday at Los Angeles FC.

It’s a testament to the Loons’ roster depth to be able to go through that much turnover — both forced and elective changes — and still sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 4-2-2 record and 14 points.

Captain midfielder Wil Trapp’s card-accumulation suspension will guarantee yet another starting XI for manager Adrian Heath in the nationally televised game, but how second-half subs and formation tinkering have produced five late goals in across the previous two wins begs the question:

Will Heath make changes to the Loons’ attack from the opening whistle against first-place LAFC?

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The Loons acquired Rosales on an 18-month loan in August 2021, liked what they saw across 30 MLS matches.
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Minnesota has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions, but Trapp, the club’s captain, and Miller are expected to be under contract in Minnesota for 2023.
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Loons acquired 20-year-old wide attacking midfielder Cameron Dunbar from Los Angeles Galaxy.
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Magee will vacate his role in the Loons’ front office in scouting and recruitment, which saw him routinely travel abroad in search of MLS talent.
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The 29-year-old Ohio native will return to MNUFC for his third season with the club next year. Trapp had guaranteed compensation of $784,875 in 2022, per MLS Players’ Association figures.
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Dallas, which earned the third seed in the West, has one of the league’s most dangerous goal-scorers in MLS in Jesus Ferreira. The U.S. men’s national team striker had 18 goals in the league this season —the fourth-highest total in MLS in 2022.
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Minnesota locked in the sixth seed and will travel to No. 3 FC Dallas for a first-round match next week.
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The Loons’ kit men are responsible for setting up the team’s oval-shaped locker room at Allianz Field, with everything players need to perform — from emergency headgear down to their socked toes.
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Fragapane is on a team-friendly guaranteed compensation of $257,000, per MLSPA, and has been one of the most productive Loons over his two seasons.
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MNUFC went into Saturday’s match in California with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win and some help. That assistance came with Real Salt Lake’s draw with L.A. Galaxy late Saturday night, but Minnesota didn’t do its part of the equation.

Heath, of course, wasn’t going to give new LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo the Loons’ lineup just yet, but Robin Lod’s presence as a false nine, with Bongi Hlongwane and Abu Danladi as change-of-pace wingers worked well against both Colorado and Chicago.

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“I have to decide whether this weekend is the time to maybe change it,” Heath said Thursday. “It won’t be a decision that is taken lightly.”

Hlongwane had two assists in the 3-0 win over Chicago on Saturday, and Danladi scored his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win over Colorado on April 16.

“I can’t say they haven’t helped us when they’ve come on,” Heath said. “But sometimes people go, ‘Well, keep it like that.’ Well, it doesn’t work like that. Because maybe what we’ve done prior to that has given them the opportunity.”

Transfer window

Don’t look for MNUFC to seek an addition at right fullback before the MLS primary transfer window closes Wednesday.

While Hassani Dotson was lost to a season-ending knee injury last week and 32-year-old Romain Metanire has played only 22 minutes with a nagging hamstring, this is why the Loons added veteran right back Oniel Fisher in the preseason.

Metanire, who is expected to remain out for two or three more weeks, jogged on the side of training session Thursday. Dotson is expected to have surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament and damaged meniscus this week.

With Dotson done for the rest of 2022, the club will be able to open a senior roster spot; the club has also maintained one vacant international roster slot since preseason.

Briefly

Goalkeeper Fred Emmings is in Carson, Calif., this week training with the U.S. under-19 youth national team. The homegrown player from St. Paul was one of four goalkeepers and 34 total players called into the U.S. camp. He previously represented the U.S. and Luxembourg youth national teams. The U.S., of course, would be the preferred choice. … The Loons’ 14 points would be good for a second-place tie if they were in the Eastern Conference. … LAFC (6-1-1, 19 points) is unbeaten in four home games (3-0-1). … Three MNUFC developmental team members have been spotted in training with the first team this week: attackers Diogo Pacheco and Emmanuel Iwe on Tuesday and defender Devin Padelford on Thursday. … Danladi missed Wednesday’s training for personal reasons but was back in action Thursday. … Defender Callum Montgomery has been progressing in his rehab.

Related Topics: SOCCERMINNESOTA LOONS
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