It has been a rough 2013 season for Minnesota United, and it closes without much to be positive about. But with the parity in the North American Soccer League, United won't need a lot to climb into the upper echelon. Here are four things it needs to address before 2014 kicks off.
1. Create a semblance of a cohesive attack.
Minnesota never really seemed to know how best to attack the opponent's goal. Most of its offensive possessions ended with someone launching a cross at striker Pablo Campos and hoping he could magically find a way to score. Even when the team controlled possession, players looked lost in the final third of the field.
2. Find another scorer.
Campos banged in 11 goals this year, but no other United forward currently with the team managed more than one. Midfielder Simone Bracalello added seven goals, but three of those came from the penalty spot. By the end of the year, Bracalello had tailed off and was out of the starting lineup.
3. Find some creativity and speed from the midfield.
Calum Mallace, signed on loan during the summer break, helped shore up the central midfield and cover up the team's lack of options at that position. It's the team's biggest area of need for 2014. United has plenty of defensive midfielders, but it needs to find someone who can provide a spark in the attacking half of the field.
Similarly, United needs to find some creativity from its wide midfielders. After a rough first half of the season, Miguel Ibarra showed more flashes of becoming one of the league's most dangerous players on the wing. A question for next season, as it was coming into 2013, is whether he can build on those flashes.
4. Recapture the team's spirit.
One of United's big problems during the spring season was locker room dissension. The team traded the two players most responsible for the tension over the summer break, but the all-for-one culture that characterized the team's 2011 and 2012 playoff runs appeared to be gone. Somehow, Minnesota needs to get it back.