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Report: Minnesota United turning to ex-Sunderland GK Mannone

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The goalkeeping competition at Minnesota United was set to be very interesting, with longtime MLS backstop Bobby Shuttleworth and promising rookie Dayne St. Clair joined by a third keep.

The potential identify of that third one makes the competition a little less open.

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The Loons will reportedly add former Arsenal and Sunderland backstop Vito Mannone on loan from Reading, says The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter.

Mannone, 30, is behind Emiliano Martinez — on loan from Arsenal — and journeyman Sam Walker has been No. 2 in recent weeks.

The keeper was a bright light for Sunderland in its relegation season two years ago, backing the club from top-to-bottom and staying very active in the community.

SKC trade Opara to MNUFC for potential 7-figure sum

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MLS’s trade market has gone a bit crazy over the last year-plus — particularly deals involving some of the league’s top American center backs — and Sporting Kansas City head coach/technical director Peter Vermes was more than happy to take advantage of one team’s desperation… again.

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Vermes shipped Ike Opara, the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year and one of the two or three best defenders in MLS over his six-year stint in Kansas City, to Minnesota United in exchange for $900,000 in targeted allocation money with the potential for that figure to rise to $1 million after incentives. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reported that the additional $100,000 is contingent upon Minnesota qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in its brief MLS history.

Opara made it known during the offseason that he would like to be paid more than the $325,000 base salary he collected in 2018, and requested that Vermes consider any trade offers that might allow him to do so elsewhere.

[ MORE: What did we learn from USMNT’s win over Panama? ]

While the potential of a seven-figure sum of Garber Bucks™ sounds like a massive amount of intraleague money — and it is — it’s also a fair price for a domestic defender of Opara’s quality.

  • December 2017: LAFC acquired Walker Zimmerman from FC Dallas for $500,000 in general allocation money, plus the no. 1 spot in the allocation order (the allocation spot was then traded to Orlando City SC for $400,000 in TAM)
  • March 2018: New York Red Bulls acquired Tim Parker from Vancouver Whitecaps for $500,000 in TAM, plus an international roster spot and midfielder Felipe Martins
  • January 2019: FC Cincinnati acquired Nick Hagglund from Toronto FC for $200,000 in GAM, $100,000 in TAM, plus the no. 1 spot in the allocation order

For the first time since bringing the Loons to MLS in 2017, head coach Adrian Heath has the foundational defender he’s sorely lacked en route to conceding 70 and 71 goals in successive seasons. While it’s a steep price to pay — calling it an “overpay” isn’t unfair — given Opara’s age (he’ll turn 30 before the 2019 season starts) and injury history, it’s a risk worth taking for Minnesota who are set to open a brand new stadium, Allianz Field, and desperately need to put forth a competitive product in year three. The case for “overpaying” being a worthwhile risk under these circumstances is an easy one to make.

As for the Sporting KC side of things, it’s yet another victory for world-renowned asset flipper Peter Vermes, who 1) acquired Opara for a second-round SuperDraft pick before the 2013 season; 2) enjoyed four-plus (healthy) seasons of one of the league’s best defenders while winning an MLS Cup and two U.S. Open Cups; 3) raked in a windfall of cash to be used in future signings and/or trades. Similar outgoing trades involving Dom Dwyer (up to $1.6 million), Benny Feilhaber ($400,000) and Diego Rubio ($300,000, plus midfielder Kelyn Rowe) have earned Vermes a reputation as a shrewd negotiator and maximizer of assets.

It remains to be seen whether or not Opara will get the raise he wants (and so thoroughly deserves), but one would assume Minnesota wouldn’t part with such a sum of money without intending to resolve any unhappiness which ultimately led to Monday’s trade.

Minnesota United adds third Designated Player

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The Loons have added a new midfielder, signing Jan Gregus to a Designated Player contract.

Gregus, 27, comes to Minnesota United from FC Copenhagen, where he has two goals and an assist in 34 appearances across all competitions this season.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines, Week 18 ]

The 22-times capped Slovakian international has also played for Banik Ostrava, Jablonec, FC Nitra, and Bolton Wanderers (though he only played for the U-23 side during his loan).

Here’s what Loons coach Adrian Heath has to say about Gregus. From MNUFC.com:

“The one thing that sticks out is his composure on the ball. He’s got a great range of passes, both short and long. He has a great stride to goal, and an imposing stature at 6 foot 3 inches. The fact that he’s in his pomp — what we consider his prime — we think we have acquired him at the right time in his career. We know we’ve got excellent attacking pieces on the roster, but we need to be able to supply the ball to those pieces and we feel that Jan can be the supplier and connector from the midfield to the attack.”

Rapids snap 7-game losing streak with win over MNUFC

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Yannick Boli and Niki Jackson scored second-half goals and the Colorado Rapids beat Minnesota United 2-0 on Saturday to snap a seven-game losing streak.

[ MORE: DCU beats FC Dallas late, takes over East’s final playoff spot ]

Colorado (7-19-6) entered a loss shy of tying a club record for consecutive losses – set this season. Minnesota (11-18-3) was eliminated from playoff contention last week after losing to Philadelphia.

Boli opened the scoring in the 61st minute by heading Marlon Hairston’s curling cross into the upper corner of the goal. It was Boli’s second goal of the season.

Jackson capped it in stoppage time by intercepting a back-pass and chipping it over goalkeeper Matthew Lampson, who had come out of his area.

[ MORE: Crew SC to remain in Columbus under new ownership ]

After Jackson’s goal, there was a skirmish on the sideline. Colorado defender Tommy Smith and Minnesota midfielder Harrison Heath both received red cards, and Minnesota goalkeeper coach John Pascarella was also dismissed.

Minnesota midfielder Darwin Quintero scored in the 51st minute but it was taken away after a video review for being offside. Ibson tied it at 1 in second-half stoppage time but it was overturned again for an offside.

DC United continues surge with win over Minnesota

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The playoff push is real in the nation’s capital.

D.C. United continued its late-season charge towards the postseason with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Minnesota United at home, pushing them two points below the cutoff line with a game in hand over the Montreal Impact above them.

The hosts nearly struck first before the break, but Wayne Rooney‘s right-footed curler was acrobatically saved by a diving Bobby Shuttleworth who laid out to his right. Angelo Rodriguez then scored just two minutes after halftime to put Minnesota United up. The Colombian struck from a tight angle on the left after his initial cross was blocked by Kofi Opare and fell right back into his lap.

Then, the comeback was on. Ulises Segura was first to strike just past the hour mark, with strong hold-up play at the penalty spot leading to a turn-and-shoot that Shuttleworth reacted far to late on. Then, just four minutes later, Darren Mattocks came streaking in to cap off a broken transition attack, tapping in Joseph Mora’s cross under sliding pressure from Brent Kallman.

D.C. ended with 61% possession and a 7-4 advantage in shots on target. With the win, United has taken seven points over its last three games, and has six wins to just two losses since July 28th.