Minnesota United on Tuesday officially signed French second-division fullback Wilfried Moimbe, the team’s second acquisition during this MLS summer-transfer window in which it also obtained Finnish midfielder Robin Lod.
Like Lod, Moimbe must complete immigration paperwork before he is eligible to play. For Lod, United coach Adrian Heath is uncertain but hopeful that will be done before the Aug. 7 U.S. Open Cup semifinal game against Portland. For Moimbe, it likely will be sometime after that.
A 30-year-old who has played in France’s top two leagues, Moimbe provides experience and depth to a United team pushing for its first playoff appearance. He is another left-footed left back — and an attacking one at that. Along with rookie Chase Gasper, he helps fill a position need since a May trade that sent away captain and veteran Francisco Calvo.
“He’s obviously vastly experienced,” Heath said. “He has played against wingers who are quick every single week. We think he’s going to be fine. It gives us an option there. If anything were to go wrong with Chase, we wouldn’t have a natural left-footed fullback. That’s something we’ve been trying to address.”
United discovered an MLS All Star when it acquired veteran right back Romain Metanire after he helped lead his French team to promotion from the second division to first.
After he trained Tuesday with his new teammates, Moimbe said success is Metanire’s and he’ll have to find his own in MLS.
“I’m very happy for him,” Moimbe said. “It’s me. I hope I do a good job for my team.”
Moimbe said he researched MLS and Minnesota United, scouring the Internet and speaking to Metanire and Philadelphia’s Alejandro Bedoya, a teammate when both played for French first-division FC Nantes, among others. He apparently found the answers he sought.
He said he doesn’t like to describe his playing style, but called himself a player who likes to attack, create crossing passing from his outside position, shoot and score, even if defending is his main job.
He said he also wants to “please” his new coach and team.
“I want to train hard,” Moimbe said. “I want to give all my body, my heart and my head.”
MLS’ current secondary transfer window is open until Aug. 9. After signing Lod and Moimbe to international-player slots, United still has flexibility to make at least one more move.
“As long as the window is still open, who knows?” Heath asked. “Maybe we can add to the group as well.”
United enters a three-game home stretch, starting Saturday against Vancouver, then continuing with back-to-back games against Portland (the second being a U.S. Open Cup semifinal). Heath calls it “probably the most important 16, 18 days that we’ve ever had. We have a huge three games coming up.”
On Tuesday, veteran defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso trained with his teammates after he missed the team’s 1-1 draw on Saturday at Real Salt Lake because of an injured shoulder. Striker Angelo Rodriguez trained with staff on his own after missing the game with an ankle injury.
Heath said he expected both players will be available for selection Saturday. Heath also said veteran defender Ike Opara has a “little tweak, nothing too serious” and called midfielder Kevin Molino “a little bit stiffer than anticipated” after Saturday’s game. He said Miguel Ibarra will start instead if Molino isn’t ready to play by Saturday.
Counting U.S. Cup games and friendlies, Heath’s team now has a week off between games for the first time since mid-May. It played six games in 18 days ending Saturday in Utah. Heath said the team, undefeated in its last eight MLS and U.S. Open Cup games, got through that stretch “unscathed” by injury.
“We’ve got a couple of little niggles, but that’s a testament to the work the boys have been putting in,” Heath said. “They’ve been terrific.”