Four of 11 players Minnesota United invited to try out for the club will travel with the team to Portland this week, keeping their roster chances alive, a team spokesman confirmed Monday.
Forward/defender Ish Jome is heading west as his signing is only pending an official announcement. Fellow preseason invitee defender Tiago Calvano also made the cut. Both had played with the club during its time in the North American Soccer League.
Two invitees also played well enough during the team’s training camp in Casa Grande, Ariz., to extend their trials. They are midfielder Eugene Starikov, who has scored both of United’s preseason goals so far, and midfielder Raul Gonzalez.
United might add more invitees “at some point,” according to the team spokesman.
Among those not making the cut are two former NASL teammates: defender/ midfielder Lance Laing and goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock.
Ex-coach Craig ‘antsy’
Carl Craig had been a United assistant since 2010 before becoming the head coach last season, when Manny Lagos moved to sporting director. Craig led the club to a fifth-place finish in the 12-team NASL in 2016 with an 11-13-8 record. He still is under contract through the end of this year, but he hasn’t been involved with any of the club’s activities this winter.
“I’m getting paychecks, so I shouldn’t worry too much,” Craig said. “But I’m not a young kid. I’ve got to get myself out there. I’ve got to look beyond this year.”
Craig said he has the “utmost respect” for newly hired coach Adrian Heath and understood Heath’s decision to bring on assistant coaches he knew.
Craig said he has had discussions with Lagos about helping director of player personnel Amos Magee with roster-building. There also is the possibility of becoming the club’s reserve team or United Soccer League team coach, but the organization hasn’t figured out those logistics. Craig even had a brief discussion with Tim Carter, United’s youth academy director, about helping with academy.
“I respect they’ve got bigger projects than me to take care of right now,” Craig said. “[But] I’m a little antsy.”
No more U.S. Open Cup for Minneapolis City
Minneapolis City SC has been disqualified from this year’s U.S. Open Cup, a tournament that pits all levels of U.S. Soccer clubs against each other, club managing director Dan Hoedeman confirmed.
The amateur minor league club had qualified for this year’s tournament in October 2016 as part of the Premier League of America. But it changed to the National Premier Soccer League, which operates in the fourth division of the U.S. Soccer structure, in December. Such a move puts it out of compliance with U.S. Open Cup rules.