Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Big Ten football coaches had universal praise for a new NCAA eligibility rule during the conference's media days last week in Chicago. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck already has plans to use the relaxed rules on redshirt seasons. "With as young a football team as we are, this is like a blessing that was just thrown to the University of Minnesota, 'Here, we're going to help you out this year,' " Fleck said Monday, July 23, from the Chicago Marriott Downtown hotel.
BLAINE, Minn. — Minnesota United scouted in Colombia on four separate occasions over the past year, and while team officials were focused on other players, striker Angelo Rodriguez is the one they couldn't take their eyes off of. On repeat visits, the 29-year-old Colombian became a priority for Loons' front office leaders to see. And back in Minnesota, Rodriguez's play turned into a major talking point among staff.
CHICAGO — P.J. Fleck saw cracks developing in his first Gophers football team during close losses in Big Ten Conference games to Maryland, Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State last season. "I thought our team last year wanted to win, but we didn't refuse to lose," Minnesota's head coach said Monday at Big Ten media days at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. "... There's a major difference between those two things."
CHICAGO—Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck was nearly 55 minutes into his hourlong question-and-answer session Monday, July 23, at Big Ten media days when he offered the biggest Minnesota-related news. "Hopefully, we are able to use Shannon creatively for four games—possibly," Fleck said from a podium inside the Chicago Marriott Downtown.
CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Monday, July 23, the Big Ten should start issuing football availability reports similar to the mandatory injury reports released by NFL teams. "I do think it's something that we should do, and probably should have done it before," the commissioner said during Big Ten Media Days availability at Chicago Marriott Downtown.
ST. PAUL — On offense or defense, Minnesota United's set pieces have been bad the past three weeks. But over the course of the Loons' 52 games in Major League Soccer, the numbers from corner and free kicks have been even worse. Four goals conceded on corner kicks have cost the Loons in three losses since June 23, including game-winners for Colorado and Dallas, and two in a 3-0 loss to Houston last Saturday. After that loss, coach Adrian Heath said he was contemplating what he could do to stanch the bleeding.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United's splash at the start of the summer transfer window continued Tuesday, July 10, with the addition of the club's second Designated Player. The Loons' acquisition of striker Angelo Rodriguez from Deportes Tolima in Colombia comes one day after the team added speedy Ecuadorian winger Romario Ibarra.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United added its first player of the summer transfer window on Monday, July 9, signing winger Romario Ibarra, a 23-year-old Ecuadorian expected to inject speed into the Loons' lineup. To complete the transfer, Minnesota used Target Allocation Money, a Major League Soccer fund created to acquire players who earn higher salaries and are expected to be key influencers on the field.
HOUSTON — Minnesota United has allowed an average of 2.7 goals per game on the road this season, a number that increased in a 3-0 loss to Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, July 7. After previous road woes, United coach Adrian Heath has been reluctant to say the results have crept into his players' heads, but that might have changed Saturday. "It worries me that this is a mental thing now," he said. Minnesota has allowed fewer than two goals on the road only once across nine games in 2018 — a spirited 2-1 win over Orlando City way back on March 10.
MINNEAPOLIS — Two Twins prospects and a trio of coaches were invited Friday, July 6, to the Futures Game on July 16 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. They are outfielder Alex Kirilloff, who has a hitting line of .332/.383/.577 at both Class A affiliates in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers this season, and pitcher Lewis Thorpe, who is 4-4 with a 4.04 earned-run average in 16 games and 15 starts with Class AA Chattanooga this season. Kirilloff, of Pittsburgh, will be managed by former Twins all-star Torii Hunter.