Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota football program’s 2020 recruiting class has continued to gain steam throughout June. Over the past 10 days, the Gophers have added 12 recruits to next year’s group, bringing the total to 20. The Gophers’ class is comprised of all three-star recruits and is ranked 24th in the nation, per 247sports’ composite rankings. The Gophers had six commits join June 15-16, with two coming earlier this month. That means Minnesota entered the month with only six pledges.
ST. PAUL — Mason Toye scored an easy right-footed tap-in directly in front of the net in Minnesota United’s 3-2 U.S. Open Cup win over Houston on June 18. But it was so much more than that. It was the second-year forward’s first goal for Minnesota and a late game-winner that propelled the Loons into their first U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal appearance against New Mexico United on July 10. It was the result of consistent coaching from Adrian Heath on where and when the 20-year-old needs to run to be dangerous in front of the net.
One birthday present Dylan Wolpers received last year just keeps on giving. The Houston wine salesman celebrated his 26th birthday with a Dynamo home game against Minnesota United in the U.S. Open Cup on June 18 last season. He didn’t think much of it; he goes to nearly all Dynamo matches.
ST. PAUL -- The U.S. Open Cup was just what Minnesota United needed. A trio of Loons attackers ended scoring droughts, and United distanced itself from a three-game MLS losing streak with a 4-1 win Wednesday, June 12, over Sporting Kansas City in the fourth round of the national tournament. In the first half at Allianz Field, Angelo Rodriguez scored his first goal since April 28. In the second, Ethan Finlay put in his first since May 18.
ST. PAUL — Five new starters will cost Minnesota United $2.95 million in salaries for the 2019 season, according to figures released Wednesday, June 12. Midfielder Jan Gregus, the Loons’ new Designated Player, is the biggest expenditure at $883,500 in guaranteed compensation this year, according to MLS Players’ Union data. Midfielder Ozzie Alonso will be paid $697,500, goalkeeper Vito Mannone is at $594,000, followed by defenders Romain Metanire ($411,833) and Ike Opara ($367,917).
When Minnesota United hired Adrian Heath before its first MLS season in 2017, the new head coach’s development of goal scorers was a main bullet point on his résumé. With Orlando City, Heath received (and sought) credit for helping Dom Dwyer and Cyle Larin become top scorers. In Orlando’s first MLS season in 2015, Larin scored a rookie-record 17 goals, and last October, he continued to praise Heath. “He really helped me develop, taught me a lot,” Larin told MLSsoccer.com. “… He was very important my first two years, coaching me, learning in training, movements and all that.”
BLAINE, Minn. -- Minnesota United attackers Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero walked and talked with each other as they exited the training field in Blaine on Monday, June 10. Teammate Lawrence Olum was in between them, but the Loons midfielder wasn’t needed to keep the peace between the struggling scorers. The scene was amicable compared to Saturday night when Rodriguez shouted and waved his arms at Quintero late in Minnesota’s 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park near Denver.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United’s trio of top center backs have helped one another navigate tough times this season. When Michael Boxall had a poor game in a 4-3 loss to Toronto in April, Brent Kallman was one of the first players to “pick me up,” Boxall said. When Ike Opara got beat twice by Josef Martinez for late goals in a 3-0 defeat against Atlanta in May, Boxall and Kallman were quick to remind Opara that, well, stuff happens (said it in a more colorful language, of course).
BLAINE, Minn. — Kyndra de St. Aubin was camped out on a patio table at a Blaine coffee shop last week. Her makeshift workspace had more than a dozen Sharpie markers, a green folder labeled “South Africa,” a thick ringed notebook with color-coded tabs and her MacBook opened to video clips. Nearby, she had a manila folder with a handwritten Atlanta United lineup used in a game against Minnesota United, plus other Loons materials. Within arm’s length, she needed her favorite drink — an iced coffee with tons of caramel and sugar.
ST. PAUL — If Minnesota United beats the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, June 8, the Loons will set a club record for road wins in a single season. A victory would make United 4-5-0 in away games with eight left to play. The Loons were 1-14-2 on the road last season and 3-12-2 in away games as an expansion club in 2017. Minnesota continues to concede goals on the road, an average of 2.12 in eight games compared to a one-goal average allowed in matches at Allianz Field. United surrendered 2.5 goals per road game in 2017 and 2.7 last year.