ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United’s top offseason priority became more glaring in Sunday’s MLS Cup playoff loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy. To go beyond a one-and-done postseason, the Loons must address their middling offense.
Minnesota was 11th in total goals scored in MLS this season and tied for 17th in on-target shots per game. With 14 of 24 clubs making the playoffs, those two stats are pretty much bang average.
Loons striker Angelo Rodriguez had a moment that embodied his year-plus in Minnesota on Sunday when his open header attempt inside the box bounced wide of the net in a scoreless game. The Galaxy went on to win 2-1.
That moment could have been the capstone to Rodriguez’s career in Minnesota. The Colombian is now “unlikely” to return to the Loons next season, a source told the Pioneer Press on Monday, Oct. 21. If so, his $667,000 total compensation would be available to spend elsewhere.
The club also holds a contract option on Darwin Quintero for next year, and the future of the club’s most expensive player at $1.75 million is up in the air.
“We have to bring quality in,” coach Adrian Heath said Sunday, with specifying where on the field he wants to see additions. “We did last year (with defenders) and we have to do the same again. If we do, this group will be a match for anybody.
“We can’t stand still, not in this league, not in the West — trust me. If we are standing still, we are going backward. We have to bring quality players in. … We have some big decisions to make over the next few weeks.”
Rodriguez, who joined Minnesota in July 2018, scored a goal per 217 minutes last season, and that average dropped to one per 363 minutes this year — a goal every four matches. That wasn’t good enough from the position most expected to score.
Quintero, who arrived in March 2018, scored a goal every 239 minutes (excluding penalty kicks) last season, and that average fell to one per 373 minutes in 2019. He also is tasked with creating goals for others as a playmaker in the middle of the field, and his annual assist total plummeted from 15 a year ago to six.
Divisions between Quintero and Heath surfaced in late August when Heath left him out of the U.S. Open Cup final, a 2-1 loss at Atlanta. Quintero expressed hurt feelings over the decision and didn’t start Sunday’s game vs. L.A. due to illness. When he subbed on in the last 30 minutes, he had one shot, three chances created and assisted on Jan Gregus’ goal in 87th minute.
Mike and Ike locked in
The Loons agreed to guaranteed multi-year contracts with center back duo Ike Opara and Michael Boxall earlier this summer, a source confirmed Monday. The pair helped solidify a defense that allowed 43 goals this season, fifth-best in MLS.
Opara was named MLS defender of the year last week, and Boxall has become United’s all-time minutes leader at 6,627 since he joined the club in summer 2017.
Each player will be 31 years when the 2020 season starts next spring.