A major snowstorm that resulted in a foot of snow greeted the seven new players who reported to Minnesota United’s first day of training camp Monday.
Welcome to the team, indeed.
The storm forced the Loons to cancel their afternoon session at the National Sports Center in Blaine on Monday, making Tuesday morning the first time the players actually had the chance to kick a ball around as a group. In all, 26 players joined in, including one trialist with Twin Cities roots.
“It was tough,” new midfielder Harrison Heath, coach Adrian Heath’s son, said of the practice. “Did the fitness test there and then did some high-intensity stuff. But I am looking forward to some good training. Obviously, I know what to expect from my old man, so I’m going to enjoy it.”
Four players were missing. Forward Christian Ramirez is on United States national team duty; new winger Frantz Pangop is on Cameroon national team duty; winger Johan Venegas is on loan in Costa Rica, and defender Vadim Demidov is on his way out of the club. Shae Bottum, a 6-2, 175-pound midfielder/forward from West Lakeland and Hill-Murray High School, is the player on trial after his senior season at St. Thomas.
The Loons will train in Blaine this week before leaving Sunday for Florida, the first of two preseason trips. Adrian Heath said this first week will be a lot of fitness work and generic training, while the real fundamental and tactical work will begin once the team is on grass in Florida.
“The guys have come back in good condition,” Heath said. “We gave them an offseason program, and we can tell that most of them have been working hard. I must say, and it’s only after one session, the draft picks have come in in great shape, and they’ve done really well this [Tuesday] morning. So hopefully that will continue.”
One of those four draft picks is the No. 15 overall choice Wyatt Omsberg. The center back out of Dartmouth impressed on his first day, but the feeling was mutual, as the club similarly impressed him.
“It’s been good. The team has been really welcoming. The coaching staff has been great. Great facilities here,” Omsberg said. “It’s been a really good start.”
The rookies, though, might just be lulled into a false sense of security.
“Yeah, of course that’s the first thing, you want to make them feel welcome,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said. “And then as they get integrated in the group, the shenanigans will start a little bit. Let them get kind of comfortable for a little bit.”