With injuries stacking up, Minnesota United might be looking at a new midfield for its next game Saturday.
With Ibson missing this past Sunday’s game because of a thigh injury, and Rasmus Schuller leaving the game late with a head injury, the Loons could have a different pairing lining up in front of the center backs against the Montreal Impact at TCF Bank Stadium.
Ibson and Schuller have teamed together for all but Sunday’s game, when Schuller started with Collin Martin and then a subbed-on Maximiano, and the May 9 game at LAFC when Martin and Maximiano worked with Harrison Heath in a three-man midfield. Martin, Maximiano and Heath are all 23 years old or younger, while Ibson is 34 and Schuller is 26.
“That’s probably one position we have quite a lot of depth in,” Heath said. “We’ve got experienced guys in there, and then we’ve got some young guys in there, as well. So it’s a big competition, and that’s where you hope training comes into that, where the manager looks at that and evaluates based off of that.”
Should Ibson and Schuller be unable to play, the likely pairing is Martin and Maximiano, though Heath and midfielder Collen Warner could be options. The two M’s worked together in the 2-0 loss at LAFC despite a language barrier, as Brazilian native Maximiano speaks Portuguese.
“Yeah, I mean, there wasn’t a lot of communication, honestly, but he was in good spots,” Martin said. “We knew defensively, at least, where we were both going to be. Offensively, it was more like an interchanging wheel.”
Coach Adrian Heath said the challenge will be gaining match fitness for those two, as neither have played many games or anywhere near a full 90 minutes consistently in months. Martin has played four games with two starts, all in the past month, while Maximiano has played two games with one start since the LAFC game. In fact, Heath said he felt of all his midfield and attacking players, pretty much only winger Miguel Ibarra is completely game ready.
Ibarra said after Sunday’s game — a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City — all the players had tired legs after giving everything they had. And that’s going to have to continue if injuries keeping chopping down United’s depth.
“We had important people go down,” Ibarra said. “Getting Abu [Danladi] coming off the bench was big for us. He showed energy a lot. So making sure he comes back healthy and getting the other ones healthy as soon as possible would be great for us. The starters right now and whom we have on the bench, we just need to step it up and keep working hard.”