DELTONA, FLA. – Minnesota United will go forth with its training and games in Florida without newly acquired goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who left Sunday and returned to England to complete his immigration paperwork.
Mannone played into the second half during his United debut in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over New England at the preseason Orlando City Invitational, punching out a couple of angled shots early in the game when the Revolution applied some pressure.
United coach Adrian Heath is trying to integrate Mannone — acquired on loan this month from Reading in England’s Championship league — and four other new starters into a team that is aimed toward at least making the playoffs with its new Allianz Field highlighting the team’s third MLS season.
Heath said he’s hopeful Mannone returns in time for Saturday’s final preseason game against Orlando City before United’s March 2 season opener at Vancouver.
“That’s in a perfect world,” Heath said. “If not, he’ll certainly be back next Monday and we’ll get a full week of practice in with him before we go to Vancouver.”
Seventh overall draft pick Dayne St. Clair recently returned home to Canada to attend to the same kind of visa issues.
“It’s one of those things,” Heath said. “At times it’s a bit of a pain, but the rules are the rules. It’s the same for everybody.”
United will proceed with last year’s starter, Bobby Shuttleworth, and St. Clair prepared to play in goal Wednesday against New York City FC.
“We know what Bobby is, we know what he has done,” Heath said. “He has been a tremendous goalkeeper for us. Dayne now is new and we’ll get him some work at the level of MLS teams and see how he does.”
Heath praised his team’s back line, its overall defensive shape and Mannone’s play Saturday after his team that allowed 71 goals last season delivered its third consecutive clean sheet in preseason play.
“There were a couple of efforts from angles that we expect the keeper to save,” Heath said. “He did his work well.”
Finlay fit for his return
Veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay played Saturday’s final 15 minutes and the first half of Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Florida International University in an 80-minute scrimmage. It was his first game action — in the sun Sunday on an 85-degree afternoon — since he underwent ACL surgery last season.
“I feel great,” Finlay said. “I’d love to have gone a little longer, but we’re just progressing as the week goes on. They’ll be plenty of minutes ahead for me this week. I’m to the point where I can do 75 to 90 minutes. I think it’s more preparing what we have 13 days ahead of us and not being exhausted by the time we come to Vancouver.”
Heath said Finlay is “very close” to playing a full 90 minutes.
“I thought he looked really sharp,” Heath said Sunday. “Today he was working really hard because of his nature and the way he is. He can’t play any other way. Some of his stuff was really, really good. He has been working really, really hard, you can tell. We’re gradually trying to introduce him, but it’s hard because he wants to keep going.”
• United 2018 first-round pick Mason Toye scored the only goal in Sunday’s scrimmage, which featured the team’s reserves who played at Saturday’s end. He beat the FIU goalkeeper one-on-one after Eric Miller found him with a pass as Toye slipped past the opposing defense. That’s the fourth consecutive game/scrimmage United hasn’t allowed a goal.
• St. Clair played in goal the entire scrimmage, stopping a first-half penalty shot and turning away FIU in the final minute, too. “I thought Dayne did really well,” Heath said. “He looked really competent. He made some big saves, made a big penalty save.”
• Heath praised Saturday’s play of new right back Romain Metanire, who attacked from the back the way Heath wants him to do. “I thought he was outstanding, considering he has not played,” he said. “Talking to our fitness guys, his heart rate hardly moved. So he’s obviously a fit guy.”