Right when Minnesota United was preparing for the bulk of its playoff push, reinforcements arrived in the form of a returning All-Star and a new signing.
The Loons announced the signing of midfielder Robin Lod on Tuesday, shoring up a position of need by picking up the wing. Defender Romain Metanire, a 2019 MLS All-Star, also came back fresh off international duty with Madagascar
Minnesota, 10-7-3 and fourth in the Western Conference, is in the thick of competing for the playoffs with 14 games remaining in the regular season. Metanire’s return and Lod’s introduction provide an immediate boost for a club looking for its first playoff appearance.
Though don’t expect Lod’s signing to be the end of club moves, according to coach Adrian Heath. The team’s still after other players and alternatives while the transfer window remains open until Aug. 7.
“We are pursuing them quite vigorously at this moment,” Heath said. “Every day is important now. Obviously, the window’s open but we have a lot of stuff to do, paperwork, visas, etc. The sooner we can get a player signed, the sooner we can get him available for selection.”
Lod’s been on Heath’s radar for the past two years, he estimated. The were looking for an attacking wing after trading captain defender Francisco Calvo and loaning midfielder Romario Ibarra to a Mexican team.
It helps there’s a familiar face already with United in fellow Finland native Rasmus Schuller. Heath joked that whenever Schuller headed to national team duties, he would tell Schuller to recruit Lod on the Loons’ behalf.
“They are doing really well,” Lod said. “MLS and this club is improving. Improving really, really fast. So I’m really happy to be here for this project.”
As for other areas of need, the Loons will likely look to upgrade the left back and center back.
While it’s unclear when Lod will be ready for selection — he still has a slew of paperwork ahead of him — Metanire should be ready to go for Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake.
The Malagasy native returns to United after a surprising run with his national team in the Africa Cup of Nations. Metanire’s spot has been held down by Hassani Dotson, which brings up questions of who fits where for Heath.
“It’s good to have [Metanire] back,” goalkeeper Vito Mannone said. “He’s been an important player for us in the first half of the season. He’s like a new signing because I don’t remember his face.”
The duo of Metanire and Lod come at the perfect time for Minnesota, though under different circumstances. Heath hasn’t made any set-in-stone lineup decisions yet, but change is likely coming for a red-hot Loons team on a four-game MLS winning streak.
Regardless, neither players is going to play in the international friendly against Aston Villa on Wednesday night. None of the starting caliber players will play, according to Heath.
Aston Villa is also planning to rotate through most of its players. Manager Dean Smith said on Monday they brought a 24-person squad, which he will split into two teams and each will play a half.
“Big opportunity [Wednesday] for a lot of the guys who had not had any minutes,” Heath said. “Some of the guys who’ve been in and out.”